First Time and Inexperienced Exhibitors: Follow these 10 tips for a successful trade show exhibit
Welcome to part 2 of the 3-part series. If you didn’t read Part 1, go read it!
In this section we’ll be going over best-practices while at the trade show. This guide is for first-time and inexperienced exhibitors.
Without further adieu, let’s get to it:
1. Have a plan on what you’ll talk about
You should already know the ins and outs of your product/service. However, you should have different sales pitches and explanations for people with various understandings of your industry and product.
For example: if you are a company that sells phone charging stations and you exhibit at a healthcare convention, you will have to explain your product to several people. Let’s say a Patient Relations Specialist approaches your booth – you need to explain what your product is and how it can increase patient-satisfaction scores. On the other hand, if someone in IT approaches your booth, you need to talk about the tech specs of the product and how it can save money by consolidating AC power plugs.
2. Look approachable
If you want to draw people to your booth, look approachable. This can be hard for people that have resting !@#$* face, but you have to make an effort!
Always try to have a smile on your face. And never stare at your computer, tablet or phone for long periods of time. Because when attendees make eye contact with friendly-faced booth staffers, they are far more likely to approach.
3. Ask Questions
I asked Traci Browne, a trade show consultant with over 15 years of experience, how first-time exhibitors should start a conversation with attendees. Here’s her response:
“Your first trade show can be overwhelming. Complete strangers are coming into your booth and firing questions at you. There is no time to research who these people are before the conversation is under-way. It can be tempting to start in on a prepared pitch or product demo because it’s what you know. It’s what you are comfortable with in that moment. But that’s the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to pitch features and benefits that mean nothing to your booth visitor. Take a deep breath and start asking questions of your own. You want to get to know that booth visitor better before you start talking. Ask open ended questions such as, “what do you like most about what you are currently using? What would you change?” The answer to that single question will let you know what path your conversation should follow. Another great question to ask is, “what do you think will be your biggest business challenge this year?” Listen to their answers and take notes. You want to include that information on your lead form.”
Here are a series of questions you can ask. First, you need to get the conversation going.
- What brings you to the show?
- How many times have you attended this show?
- What attracted you to our booth?
- Found anything useful so far?
Then find out what they are looking for.
- What does your company do?
- Is there a specific reason why your visiting?
- What are you looking for from the exhibitors?
- Are there any specific products or services you are looking for?
Click here to view a list of opening questions to ask attendees.
4. Approach people walking around the convention
You don’t have to wait for individuals to approach your booth to talk to them. If you take a break, walk around and socialize. Network with individuals and ask them questions on why they are attending. If they seem to be a good fit for your product or service, make the sales pitch. If they are interested, welcome them to your booth and give them personal attention. It’s very effective for selling.
Also, I just saw this and thought I’d share: a Stanford study concluded walking improves creativity. So if you are feeling monotonous or robotic, walk around and clear your thoughts. It may help you be more creative with your selling technique.
5. Post on social media
Most people are on social media these days, and so should your company. Before attending and during the trade show itself, you should post updates on your company Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Be sure to use relevant hashtags and shoutout/mention the convention’s social media account, too.
For example: If you are attending the Healthcare Info & Mgmt Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference, here is a Tweet that you may send out during the convention:
“Come by booth 43 and check out our SWAG! @HIMSS #HIMSS #HIMSS15 #healthIT #globalhealth” and include a photo.
Below is an real example of a good tweet:
— Jennifer Bertman (@jabertie) June 26, 2015
Here’s a good post on 7 ways to use Instagram at a trade show.
6. Organize booth for easy access to brochures/giveaways
Planning on giving out brochures? Or swag? Make sure it’s in an area where attendees can see them and also easily grab them.
Literature racks not only look professional, but they save precious room in your booth and on your table. Set one up and put all your handouts in there for easy access.
7. Take breaks
This is important. No one should man a booth for an entire day. If there isn’t a schedule for who will be working the booth at what time, make one!
Pro tip: Bring a water bottle with you and take a break once it’s empty.
8. Organize your leads
Every event has some down-time but you should use that time wisely. After talking to attendees, you should place them in a lead qualifying system. But sometimes you don’t have the luxury to sit down and do that because there are several other people waiting to talk to you. So whenever you do have down-time, go ahead and organize your leads.
You can sort by cold leads, warm leads, and hot leads. Or you can organize by name. Or you can organize by importance, etc. You should have a system in place beforehand.
9. Bring 2 pairs of shoes
Traci also suggests exhibitors should bring 2 pairs of shoes and switch them out every few hours. Your feet will thank you!
10. Hand out your giveaways
Lastly, ask attendees if they’d like your company’s giveaway before leaving your booth.
- Talk on your phone
- Play games on your phone/tablet/computer
- Eating a meal (a quick snack should be fine)
- Read a book
- Leave your booth unattended
That’s it for Part 2. Read Part 1. Part 3 is coming soon!