Back in April 2014, we offered five tips for trade shows in a blog post. We recently participated in another business expo and noticed a few faux pas by exhibitors that are worth bringing to your attention as we revisit trade shows.
1. Remember why you and/or your company are there. If the person staffing your booth is responding to text messages or eating in the back of the booth or talking to someone on their phone, a prospective customer is going to walk right by. That prospect will also have a negative impression of your company and brand because of a perceived lack of interest in them by your staff and in your company actually participating in the trade show.
You are exhibiting for prospective consumers to see your business and to learn more about your brand. You are also participating to create potential leads and referrals for your sales force or to build brand awareness.
While a seemingly disinterested staff person can cause consternation with expo guests, the over-eager staffer can also turn people off. Greeting guests as they pass your exhibit should be natural and not forced. Standing out in the aisle trying to coerce people to come in and check you out usually gets them to step to the other side of the aisle.
Remember, people don’t like to be sold! They prefer to make their own decisions without pressure from a sales person.
2. Be positive. Even though the traffic by your exhibit space may be less than you would like, griping about it to passers-by or other exhibitors can create a negative impression of you and your business. If you’re frustrated, find a replacement to staff the space and take a break. Go have lunch or take a walk until you can come back with a better attitude. That doesn’t mean an attitude adjustment at the bar!
If you’re a sales person staffing the booth, use the opportunity to create quality leads for yourself or, if nothing else, practice your people skills. Work on listening to people and actually hearing what they say. Ask open-ended questions instead of trying to pitch your wares. Find out if the people you’re talking to have any interest at all in what your brand is all about. Use it as a learning experience. Try different closing techniques, but be gentle.
3. Evaluate your success. If the event fails to meet your established expectations, weigh whether it’s worth participating in. If it’s been successful in the past, but isn’t this time, analyze why it failed. Were there significant changes in the location, your booth space, or the format of the event? Was there something you did different, including who staffed the booth?
Before you drop participation in the future, think about what you can do to replace the exposure and potential revenue this trade show has meant in the past. Think, too, about how good it might be to engage a professional to help make your trade shows awesome.