InBiz Magazine, Third Quarter, 2009 - page 16
Make Trade Shows Work for Your Business continued from page 15 The Show Begins Once the Expo begins, you'll be busy meeting people—and generating leads. Create a list of who you'd like to meet and focus on building a smaller number of deep relationships rather than gathering a huge stack of business cards. Chances are, you won't recall many of those names, anyway, unless they are solid business leads. Some of the most effective business is conducted outside the booth, so work the room and attend as many events (like demos and award presentations) as possible. During the show, focus on conversations that help to develop a better understanding of a customer's needs and how your product can fulfill them. Ask plenty of questions and let your customers do most of the talking. Staffing Your Booth "It's easy to spend thousands of dollars on a booth, but ninety percent of the time sales are made because of your staff," says Julia O'Connor, president of TradeShowsTraining.com. No more than two people should staff a booth at the same time. "You don't want people just hanging around who prevent customers from seeing your product," she adds. Take the time to train your staff well on how to interact with customers. Conduct a practice meeting before the show. Discuss roles, review the layout, and engage in mock conversations or demonstrations. Coach staff on how to collect leads and handle the media. Your booth should succinctly explain your business, display what you do when possible, and make an impact on attendees. It should serve as a teaser, getting people to visit your shop or website, intrigued by the possibilities. O'Connor suggests attending a trade show and noting the type of booth that draws you in. What was it that attracted you? Take cues from those booths when developing your own. No matter what you decide to distribute, make sure that it directly relates to your business objectives. Display: Keep It Simple The displays with the most impact depend on each exhibitor's product and objectives. But every display, message, and graphic should follow one mantra: KISS, or "Keep it simple, silly," says Musgrove. "If you're announcing a new product, you can create awareness by conducting a set number of demonstrations per hour," she says. Don't make the common mistake of piling too much information on your display that it becomes distracting and unappealing. "Your trade show exhibit should function like a print ad," says Peter LoCascio, a trade show consultant. "There should be a headline that visually communicates who you are and what your product's benefits are." Use a large backdrop with the company's name and logo. Smaller banners can show other messages. Companies still give away items like water bottles, candy, and pens. Others raffle off big-ticket items like iPods. But here's a new twist: why not get customers to give you something, too? Ask them to complete a short questionnaire identifying their greatest needs, as well as revealing whether they are authorized to make purchasing decisions. To increase traffic, Visible Innovations, a Cleveland-based provider of marketing and sales services, uses high-definition video, producing short films that display the company's services on a plasma screen. The company has also begun to issue white papers at shows. Mitch Slater, a principal at Visible Innovations, believes that by educating people, he can achieve far more at a trade show than by raffling off a prize. Demand for the company's services is on the rise, he says. Materials Ever yone at the show should carry his or her own business card. Make sure, too, that you obtain correct information from people you meet, allowing you to send them brochures or other followup materials. Fact sheets, case studies, and press releases are also useful. Because attendees are bombarded with paper at the show, it's more effective to send information electronically after the show. This saves money and provides another touch-point with a potential customer. 16 | | Third Quarter 2009
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