Exhibiting in an industry
show can be the best marketing vehicle for your company to obtain immediate
access to potential and existing customers. It is also an excellent opportunity
to display your product or service to the largest number of people at any single
event. If you do it right, you can likely generate more leads in three or four
days than you can in the field in a whole year.
But if you think that getting
results from exhibiting comes from simply putting up a booth with a big sign,
displaying your product, and standing around waiting for people to come is all
it takes, you are sadly mistaken. Or, if you think that merely offering a "giveaway"
that draws hordes of people into your booth will generate good leads you could
be greatly disappointed.
If you want to win the game,
it is essential to have a marketing strategy in place months ahead of the show
and put some "trade show sales savvy" when interacting with customers at the
booth. Here are some do's and don'ts I have learned from over twenty years experience
working in the trade show field with a multitude of clients from numerous industries.
These can make the difference between success or failure in your trade-show
In the months and weeks
ahead of the show . . .
- Brainstorm with your
Discuss what has worked
for you when you have exhibited in the past and what hasn't. Discuss ways
you can get your best customers and potential customers to visit. Decide
if you will extend a special invitation to a dinner or reception, purchase
special gifts, or perhaps sponsor a special event. Think of innovative ways
you can differentiate your trade show exhibit and presentation from your
competitors. For example, you might have a pedestal using special lighting
on an enlarged version of a complicated molded part to catch their eye.
- Create a desire to
visit your booth
but usable gifts such as a walkman, funny T-shirt, smokeless ashtray, or
sets of golf balls to use to help with your pre-show promotion that will
entice buyers visit your booth. Be creative when selecting what you buy.
Then invite your best potential and existing customers to your exhibit and
let them know a gift is waiting for them at the booth in their name. (You
will want to be sure these gifts are packaged, and handed to people in a
bag so as not to offend anyone who may not have received one.)
- Train your booth
personnel on trade show selling skills
Booth personnel should
learn about the products or services being displayed and brainstorm every
conceivable question attendees might ask on the show floor. Carefully formulate
the questions you want them to ask to qualify visitors and the sales message
you want to convey. Then have them practice how to deliver information and
answer questions concisely and powerfully. Be sure you have a lead-handling
plan and that everyone knows how it will work. Know about your competitors'
product and be able to state why yours is better.
- Bring anyone from
your company who is not friendly and outgoing and has a good attitude about
Booth personnel must have
product knowledge, a professional appearance, and excellent communication
skills or they'll be taking up space. Anyone who will be at the booth will
be there for one reason and that is to help the sales force generate leads.
(Remember: A company is judged by the people they keep.)
- Compose a follow-up
letter that you can personalize (NO FORM LETTERS!) and store it on your
word processor for fast follow-up after the show. Be sure you leave space
to recap what you talked about so they will know you remembered them specifically.
Create an inquiry form if you will not be using the system provided by show
At the show . . .
- Meet, greet, qualify
and interest people fast
Extend your hand and say,
"Hi - I'm Joe! How do you like the show?" Small talk for 30 seconds, then
ask a question to qualify the person before discussing your products or services,
i.e. "Do you have application for this type of mold making equipment?" - "What
are your needs?"
- Hesitate to approach,
or use the phrase, "May I help you?" or spend more than five minutes with
any one prospect unless it could mean big business.
- Take the time to
write information the salespeople need
Be sure to record the
customer's level of interest, purchasing influence, budget, and specific application,
time frames and phone number.
- Hand out literature
without scanning their badge or getting their business card.
- Deliver an enthusiastic
presentation. And remember, people buy solutions to problems.
- Provide demos that
are longer than four minutes.
Visitors' attention span
will be limited. They may be tired, jet-lagged, and fatigued, but need to
visit other booths at the show.
- Display professionalism
in every aspect of the business process. Be sure to introduce interested prospects
to upper-level management. (It makes them feel important.)
- Forget to ask for
Most salespeople don't
do this, which is a mistake, but in many instances you can, and should close
business on the trade show floor. Take the initiative and ask for the sale!
Exhibiting at a trade show
can be a costly and labor-intensive endeavor: booth space, displays, marketing
materials, etc. Despite the costs, if you properly plan for the event, conduct
yourself professionally during the show, and make sure you are prepared to follow-up
afterwards, your results will far surpass the investment. These tips will help
you beat the competition and make your profits soar. Good luck with your trade