If you have a 10 foot booth, you have approximately 3 seconds to make an impression on an attendee passing your booth. If your company name does not spark an interest, or your “tag” line does not give the person any hope of finding out what your company does, then you are the person that is going to make it happen!
Be prepared with a number of great lines that can be used on a myriad of attendees that will be passing your booth.
You have to be aggressive; you have to want to do business you have to be “on”. If you have no intention of taking an aggressive and positive attitude while you are in your booth, why are you there in the first place?
Technical Trade Shows and the people that stand booth duty are frustrating to work with. They usually talk in a language, using, letters, and buzz words that only another person, in the same industry will understand.
What these technical companies have a tendency to forget is that not everyone that works for, or buys technical products or services, knows the technical language. Therefore, companies selling technical products should be able to speak in a language that will be understood by the general public, not get the technical literate. I was once given the task to sell a digital voltmeter to a maitre’d in a restaurant.
If you want to generate business you had best be able to speak the language that will be understand by the person you are trying to sell.
Many companies still make decisions to invest thousands of dollars in a major trade show and do not leave themselves sufficient time to plan and coordinate this effort. Under these conditions they end up making decisions in a panic, and managing in crisis. A company needs to investigate, discuss, plan, coordinate and commit to all the facets of a trade show if they expect to have a successful trade show experience. Considering that only 15% of the exhibitors at any trade show are successful, it is important that a company has sufficient time and that everyone within the organization is aware of the importance of this effort.
You cannot and should not consider doing a trade show and not giving yourself and other members of the company sufficient time to get their act together. What I mean by this is, if you have products to display, you need to get with manufacturing, production or engineering so that you can put on display the best possible product that really shows the true capabilities of your company. Just displaying any old thing that you had in the back room certainly does not give a positive message to either the company employees, or the attendees at the trade show that will be looking at equipment. How will the presentation of the company person in the booth go? “Well, this is not our latest equipment, this is what we had available.” What are you telling the prospect that has stopped to look at your products? This company has so much business, they really are not interested in new clients, or they really don’t care. What type of effort, and how does your company approach going to a trade show?
Some years ago I had a client that was determined to spend many dollars on literature to be handed out at the trade show. No matter what I said he always had a response. “This is old literature, I was going to get rid of it anyway” or “This literature has a lot of information so they will hold on to it”
We had done a few trade shows together, and the expense allocated for trade show material was astronomical. When I confronted my client on this, because I had a tough time presenting a realistic ROI (Return on Investment) that made sense. He said, not to worry it was an accounting thing. I also know when things get tight in a company because of a downturn in sales, accounting takes a hard look at everything, and where they can “cut” because of the expense they do. Having listened to my client talk about his literature – He loved to design, write copy, and show how informative it was, and how the attendees really liked it and no doubt they will be carrying it home to read again and again.
But, they’re so professional! Everyone wants one!
While at my client’s booth at a major trade show at the Javits Center in New York City I really got annoyed, and I confronted my client as he was handing out these very elaborate 8 page multicolored coated stock brochures that must of cost over $4.00 each. When I saw this I asked him how long he had been handing these out. He said since the start of the trade show, which was at 10:00AM. It was now a little after noon, and I asked my client how many do you think you have handed out. He was so excited, when I asked him that because he said that everyone wanted them, they were so professional. Again I asked him how many he had given out, and he said, “About 60” Well I said, I have been telling you for over 2 years that it’s a waste of money to spend a lot on literature to be handed out at a trade show because, according to statistics between 82% to 90% of the literature collected at a trade show is thrown away.
I said to my client, “I will bet you dinner at the best restaurant of your choosing, that I can collect at least 30 of your brochures right here at the trade show” He said, “I’ll take that bet” With that said, I found two of the workers that empty the garbage cans around the trade show floor. I told them I would give each of them $20 dollars if they could find 30 of these brochures that have been thrown away. Then I told them I would meet them back at the booth in one hour.
50 minutes later both of these workers came back with 45 brochures in their hands, and wanted their money, which I gladly gave them.
That evening I had dinner and a wonderful bottle of very expensive wine at restaurant considered the best seafood restaurant in New York City. My client was still in shock, but not over paying the bill, but seeing how much money he had wasted by not listening to me two years ago when it came to literature.
If you do your trade show literature correctly, it will be inexpensive, it will be focused on this show, and also follow your trade show theme, and it will be something they will hold on too, and use for reference for the whole trade show.
What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments, I would love to read them!
You have commented about what not to do when you stand booth duty. Since I will be doing a few trade shows in my territory, please give me some pointers of what I should look for when I am asking/requesting people for stand booth duty.
Jim, Sales Manager
Standing booth duty is hard work, but the return on your effort can be tremendous. The opportunity to generate more sales opportunities in a three day show that you can in 6 months to a year working from your office, should be enough to get anyone interested. But the problem is most sales types don’t look at it like that. They only see that they are going to be away from their family, friends and clients for three days. You want someone who is a good listener, a person that can ask the qualifying questions without jumping to conclusions. A good person in the booth is enthusiastic, positive, dressed to do business, qualifies rather than sells, and gives the attendees the impression that he or she is happy to be here and able to serve you. When you have people like that in your booth, you will come away with a number of qualified sales opportunities.
Too many companies go to trade shows, and have no idea what the profile of their client is. They sign up for trade shows that have the wrong audience, because they have no idea who they intend to sell to. You have to know who your potential client is before you make an investment in a trade show.
Without knowing the type of company, size, industry and product or service offered you are not prepared to be an exhibitor at any trade show. If you are not sure who your client is, then look at your 10 major clients and get as much information on them as you possible can. Look at their SIC codes, their NCIS codes, industry, products and services.
That should give you any indication of who you should be targeting, and what they are buying.
Business is a game.
Business to many people is a game, but it is a very serious game. Consider the fact that as an owner or President of a company, you have the responsibility of the people who work for you.
In this day and age there are a number of associations and government organizations that will help a company to succeed. Know who you are dealing with and know who you should be dealing with.
I don’t believe in giveaways, but if you want to use a giveaway, have the attendee do something for it. To have a table in front of your booth, lined with hundreds of pens, cups or tee shirts and having people come by and take one to me is a waste of money and certainly doesn’t do anything for the company exhibiting.
Don’t – Give it Away to Everyone
You as the exhibiting company have to ask yourself the question, “Did the person come to the booth to learn about my company’s product or service or to pick up one of the giveaways”
Do- Require Participation
If you keep the giveaway on the shelf, (for example a pen) and the attendee prospect enters into discussion, and you qualify that person. At the conclusion of the qualification sequence (which should take less than 5 minutes) gives the person the pen and say,” Thank you for stopping at the XYZ booth and your interest in our products and services. Here is a pen to remember us by” the person has done something, by participating in the qualification sequence, you have accomplished something, and now you personally present the pen to that person. Now it is a big deal, you have made it a big deal, because not everyone that comes to your booth is going to get one of these pens.
The trade show directory can be a major marketing tool for any company providing they do their homework and list the relevant information.
The information listed in the directory should be clear enough so that if someone wants to contact the company they will contact someone in sales that is familiar with the specific trade show and can answer any questions pertaining to what was offered by the company at the trade Show. The information should consist of company name, location, products or services on display that follow the theme of the show, but most of all identify someone with in the organization as the person to contact regarding company product information that listed in the directory. If possible, put the name of one of the sales or marketing managers who did participate in the trade show, and perhaps even stood booth duty.
Some companies use the directory to their advantage in the sense that they want to keep track of all leads that came from a specific trade shows. Trade show directory are usually taken back to the attendees office to use as a reference guide. They use it to see who of their competitors exhibited at the trade show. They review other companies’ information to see who introduced new products. Just because the trade show is over does not mean that you will not get some residual effects from have good information on you company listed in the trade show directory.
If you want to do business, make it easy for someone to contact you. If the person calling your organization, and is put though a series of questions to get someone in the sales department, it doesn’t start off the relationship with your company on a positive note. But if a person calls your organization, and has a name of a person to contact the caller will feel more comfortable, and you as the person in the sales department will know exactly what they are calling about.
Make the trade show directory work for your company. The attendees may throw away the majority of the literature that they pick up at the booths they visit, but the trade show directory, in most cases, will be with them long after the trade show is finished.
One of the problems faced by most companies that participate in a trade show as an exhibitor is the amount of paperwork that has to be completed to become an exhibitor. It is a step by step process that, over the years the trade show organizers have tried to make it easier, or more efficient, but they certainly do not have the exhibitor at heart. In most cases they have tried to make it easier for themselves, not necessarily for the exhibitor.
The sequence of events that happens is usually the same for most every trade show. You go to the trade show web site, request a copy of the trade show form, print it out, fill it in, and return it with a check for the cost of the booth space. When that is done then you will usually receive a loose leaf binder, with sections for each of the exhibitor’s requirements.
Drayage, Electrical, Signage, Carpentering, and booth furniture are but a few of the major items listed.
Each has a date assigned to when you have to have this documentation completed and returned to the company, obviously with your check. If you get the information completed and sent back in a timely fashion, usually you will receive a discount for these services.
If you don’t pay attention to these time frames it will cost you more money because you will be penalized for not having your information returned in a timely fashion.
You as the person responsible for the trade show should organize your information so that you know exactly when the information requested must be returned.
If you use a spread sheet listing the name of the item, along with the date the information is due back at the trade show producer’s home office it will certainly help to keep everyone focused, efficient and on time.
Your spread sheet for completions of trade show tasks should contain the following:
Name of product or service requested
Date the documentation and check is required back in the Trade Show Producer’s Office.
Name of the person at the company responsible for this task
List of names, if necessary that must approve this request
The check # and when the check must be ready. (How many times have companies missed the dates because the checks were not drawn in a timely fashion, because Finance wanted to hold on to the fund until the very last minute)
The date the information was completed and sent back to the Trade Show Producer. (Send registered mail or FEDX so you have complete accountability. It’s worth the few more dollars for the peace of mind)
Make copies of everything, and keep them in a binder for quick reference.
In fact, you should make at least two copies of all of the documentation that has been completed and returned to the trade show producer.
A copy is for your accounting department, and a copy to take with you to the trade show. Why? Well it is not uncommon for the trade show producer to loose your information. You do not want to be standing in line waiting to make arrangements for your carpeting or carpenters, and when you get to the counter and the person ask your name and says they cannot find your information, they are certainly not going to stop and look just for your information. What usually happens is that you are put at the end of the line and when they have taken care of all of those exhibitors that have documentation, they will then attend to you. It makes for a last minute trade show set up, and certainly doesn’t put you as an exhibitor in a positive frame of mind.
Anticipate the potential problems, makes copies and have then with you at the trade show. It will certainly save you a lot of time and frustration.
Also make a form that list all of the expenses associated with this trade show. As a person responsible for the trade show you need to be able to justify the cost of this show, based on the amount of business opportunities (Leads) that this trade show produced.