Mar 19, 2012

So You Plan on Exhibiting? Plan Ahead to Reap the Most ROI.

What do you want to get out of it? How many attendees do you want to stop at your booth How many leads do you hope to generate? How many products do you want to sell? Are you focusing on promotion or hoping to launch a new product?

Set Clear Goals
You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in the trade show is going to achieve. Determine what your ROI would be – if one new customer helps you justify you being at the event, then focus on getting that customer.

You need to choose the trade shows that will give your business the best ROI in terms of your goals. If your goal is on-site sales, exhibiting at that big splashy trade show where your booth is among dozens that sell similar products may not be the best choice.

Research is Key
You want to choose a trade show that best targets the audience that you want to reach, and best suits your participation goals. Find out what the particular trade show's objectives are, and investigate and evaluate the show's audience.

Find out everything you can about your space, including:

  • Location on the trade show floor
  • Other exhibits nearby
  • Whether it's a high traffic or low traffic area
  • Physical conditions of the booth space, such as lighting
  • If you are targeting multiple audiences, make sure you have appropriate information to meet the needs of each.

Know Your Audience and Plan Ahead 
Put the word out that you're participating in a particular trade show by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the show. Be sure you give them all the details, such as your booth number. Be sure to advertise your coming trade show attendance on your website as well.

Some shows allow exhibitors to purchase pre-registered attendees list. The list will contain attendee’s name, company, and address (typically they do not provide phone numbers or e-mails). Usually they email you the list or send you the labels.

Spread the Word - in Advance
Now you're ready to attend the trade show – not quite. Below are tips for putting together a trade show display that wows your audience and draws a crowd.

Pull a crowd to your trade show booth.
Use an interactive display, such as a quiz or game on a computer, a contest draw, or a scheduled demonstration. It doesn't need to be fancy to draw people's interest and get them to cluster around your trade show display rather than others.

Use a prize draw or contest.
Having some kind of prize drawing or contest is a great way to collect contact information from booth visitors. You can give away promotional items to encourage people to participate.

Have a stock of promotion items that you can use as giveaways at your booth.
Small items that people can take away and use (while being reminded about your business) are best. Be sure you place these items in a location where people will have to walk into or through your trade show display to get them.

Actively engage trade booth visitors.
Give people who approach your trade show display a friendly greeting and welcome their questions. Be sure that your body language is friendly. Don't stand there with your arms crossed over your chest, for instance. Chat with booth visitors, and find out what aspect of your business they're most interested in. Be prepared to offer specific solutions to their questions. The trick is to draw them in without intimidating or overwhelming them.

Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature on hand.
You'll want to have a good supply of color fliers and brochures as well as order forms, price sheets and business cards that you can hand out to booth visitors. Make it easy for them to find the information on your business later.

Have your trade show booth manned at all times by knowledgeable person.
Someone has to be there to greet browsers, engage them in conversation, and take their questions. If you can't be there every minute the trade show is open, you'll need to have at least one other person to help man your booth.

Many companies will send their "rookies" to tradeshows. Sending new staff people is not always the wisest decision, however, as they may not have all the answers about your products or services. If you do send a new staff member, be sure include an experienced employee as well. That way, newer staff will be able to watch and learn.

Get out from behind your booth and get off your phone/computer.
Often, exhibitors sit behind their tables while attendees stand looking down at them - get up and engage! Also, get off your phone or computer. Nothing is worse than watching one of our exhibitors miss valuable exhibitor time because he or she is one the phone. There are typically periods of down time during any conference to follow up on voicemail or emails.

Follow up promptly
Follow up with contacts and leads you made during the trade show as soon as possible. The faster you send them out, the more your business will stand out from the rest.

Do you have an example of a challenge you were able to overcome because you planned ahead? We would love to hear from you below...

Feb 8, 2012

Get to Know Your Prospective Clients at the Trade Show

Exhibiting at trade shows is a very beneficial way to network for freelancers. Whether attending or actually exhibiting at the event, face time is essential in giving prospective clients the opportunity to get to know you. What could be better for business than having a bunch of one-on-one conversations about what services you offer?

If you’ve never exhibited at a trade show before, or if you are just looking for a few new ideas to freshen up your booth space, to follow are a few tips that will help make your trade show experiences a success.

Have your business cards ready...

Business cards are a must-have at any trade show whether you’re participating in the event itself or wandering from booth to booth. Do be sure to have your cards neatly placed on your table in a place that is accessible and easy to spot. Keeping a few in-hand for those networking conversations can be helpful as well. While it is important to calculate the number of freebies to giveaway, having business cards is an area not to skimp on. Be sure to bring plenty and then some.

Make sure you have easy-to-read signage...

Signs and visuals are a reliable way to attract attention by people walking past. To ensure your signs are working for you properly, be sure they can be read in one to three seconds, just like a billboard. By using colors that match your branding, you can continue to keep your marketing materials consistent, offering a more professional feel. A quick headline that’s easy to understand and attention getting can create a big impact as well.

Host a raffle...

A raffle is a fun way to gather information from prospects. Simply pick an item that you think is interesting enough to serve as a “prize.” Next, place a fishbowl or vase on a table and ask individuals to drop in their business card for a chance to win. Also note on a small sign, that by offering their card, the attendee is giving you permission to contact them with news/special offers from your business or company.

Designate a drawing time during the event and require that the winner be present to win; this tactic brings attendants back to your booth. A phone call or email to notify the winner a day or two after the show works as well. Not only have you created a memorable way to interact with your prospects, but you’ve also gained their permission to stay in touch with direct or e-mail campaigns.

Add some greenery...

It’s amazing at how dreary some trade show events can be. In order to liven up your booth space a bit and to give the eye something refreshing to look at, try bringing in a few plants or flower bundles. This is a great way to liven up the look of your display and you can also give away a nice arrangement or two as your raffle prize.


Trade shows can be very dark. Often these events are held in large convention centers and with all the display signage and props, a lot of shadows are cast. Think about setting a decorative table lamp or spotlight on your booth table. It will brighten up your space, attract more attention and make you stand out a bit from your fellow exhibitors.

Promotional Items...

When trying to figure out how many promotional items to bring, first do a little research on the event. Often, the show organizer will be able to offer a rough estimate of how many people are expected to attend. It’s important to talk to the visitors that stop by and are interested enough to seek out your freebies. Therefore, if you want to talk to every person that picks up an item for five minutes, and the event is only three hours long, that’s only 36 give-aways that you could possibly hand out comfortably.

There are the few trade show attendees who do run from booth to booth trying to gather as many promos as possible. For these types of situations, do be sure to have a few extra materials on hand.

Follow up...

The work is not yet done even though the event may be. Be sure to follow up with any raffle winners you had and any contacts you made. Wait one or two business days so you don’t seem too eager. Remember they’re just returning from the show to and probably have a lot of catching up to do. Any longer than that, however, and you’re giving your prospective client the chance to forget about your encounter. Remind the person of your conversation and work to set up a meeting.

Trade shows are certainly a lot of work and do require some time. However, think of them as networking meetings with you as a focal point; people attend specifically to see the vendors and booth exhibitors. By working to gain their attention, create interesting visuals and by following up, you can turn a trade show into time very well spent.

Jan 9, 2012

Make the Most of Your Investment by Properly Staffing Your Trade Show Booth.

You’ve spent the time and money to have a booth at the trade show and now you just need to show up and “man” the booth. Wrong, a badly staffed booth is just like throwing money away. When you properly manage who represents your company you can boost the profitably, your brand and sales at the show.

What can you do to ensure that you assemble a team of booth staffers that will get the job done right?
Make this your best trade show ever...
  • Choose staffers who actually want to staff your trade show booth and have the right attitude throughout the show.  Then, train chosen staffers for product, company, and customer knowledge as needed.
  • Your booth staffers will be more motivated when they understand clearly just how much you are investing at each show, what are the company’s goals and your goals for them at the show.
  • A staffer that is able to stay focused on aisle traffic, watch attendees walking down the aisle for the right moment, and engage with them can get double, triple, or more leads than a booth staffer who is distracted or too shy.
  • Your booth staffers don’t have time to tell your entire company history.  So train staffers to ask what matters most to your booth visitors, and then share only the relevant part of your story.
  • Tell your booth staffers it’s essential they take a minute after each visitor conversation to write down a few sentences about what that lead said and wants, before going on to the next lead. This is extremely important as this allows them to personalize the “thank you for stopping by” follow-up email or letter.
  • Spend enough time training your booth staffers to give them the chance to succeed.  A half hour just before the show starts is not nearly enough.  For example, can staffers all smoothly demonstrate your newest products or explain your services so that a layman can understand? This is especially crucial in the technical industries.
  • New booth staffers benefit enormously by doing practice booth staff role-playing before the trade show.  It gets them over their fears and engrains the training much more memorably.
  • Invest in bringing enough staffers so they can maximize the investment you’ve already spent in booth space, trade show exhibits, show expenses and services, and promotions.
  • Surprisingly, introverted booth staffers can outperform extroverted booth staffers, because they can be more focused on engaging attendees and may listen more to your booth visitors’ needs.
  • Offer prizes and/or recognition for the staffers who gather the highest quantity of qualified leads.
Remember, your booth staffers are the ambassadors of your brand.  What they say and do matters a great deal. Get more from your trade show investment by following the suggestions provide in this blog.

Do you have an interesting success story or a mistake you learned from? We would love to hear from you in the box below...