Who's To Blame For An Unsuccessful Result
The trade show business is an old one, and as all things do...they evolve. Today, many shows take place in elaborate venues, have big contests, exciting give away packages....and lots of FREE STUFF! With all of this enthusiasm, it would seem like an exhibitor should 'knock it out of the park' at any given expo...right? But it didn't happen that way. So... is it your fault, the show's fault, your competition's fault or poor planning? The answer is....YES.
Trade Shows Start With The Ground Game
So you've decided to exhibit in a trade show. The biggest mistake most companies make starts right here...by assuming the expo committee will do all of the advertising and bring enough quality potential new customers to the show to see you and your booth.
Not everyone out there knows they need your service. Your most powerful tool is your existing client base and friends and family list. As soon as you decide to participate in a trade show you need to be promoting the show itself on all of your social media and outreach platforms...and more importantly...advertise your involvement in it! Many shows have a certain theme or target guest in mind. Use this information to make it relate to your business.
For example - There is a BIG wedding expo coming up, but you are just a simple realtor. You think "eh, not for me." What you SHOULD be thinking is..."hey, newly engaged couples...everyone is going to need a place to live..what an exciting journey to be on and I know I can help them!"
Let people know you are going to be there and design a plan that is going to relate to the target audience so that they will have a reason to connect with you.
Define Your Space
Trade shows are designed to funnel in as much traffic as possible. It is because of this design, people are set up to just "window shop"... and that's exactly what will happen, unless you open your doors and invite them in.
By having a table in line with the other vendor's on both sides of yours, you are setting the customer up to just keep on walking by without stopping. BIG NO! The most simple FREE thing you can do is this: Instead, set your table back behind you with your materials on it and get out in front of it. You've now created an "artificial intersection" for people to stop and think about taking two steps in your direction. Now they are in YOUR SPACE.
Make Your Branding Effective
If you plan to use the same print materials you use for everything, you may be setting yourself up to fail. Your media and content should connect and relate to the target audience in a way so that they can see the synergy between your business and them. Incorporate your branding in a tasteful way to enhance your message, not dominate it.
If you use pop up banners, invest in one that may be colored to fit that type of clientele. For example, if show proceeds are going to support breast cancer, use pink material, if you are doing a home and garden show - use bright colors such as greens and yellows. The same thing goes if you are using TV's to display revolving content, keep it consistent so everything looks uniform across all of your platforms.
Change up your media to relate to the target audience.
Throw the clipboard and pen in the trash. PLEASE! It's 2017...and people expect it to be interactive. Invest in a tablet or two to have on hand to collect data from the people you meet.
Why? Three reasons: 1) it's more efficient, people are typing instead of writing so there is no 'trying to figure out' what someone wrote on the paper. 2) The new contact won't feel like 'just another name on a list'. Their biggest fear is being spammed by everyone at the show. 3) It saves you time from entering all the information into your database later...your potential new customer just did it for you!
Give Them A Reason To Remember You
The Take Away - At the end of the day, all of the visitors will be going home with a ton of literature they won't read, business cards they won't keep, and a hundred free pens they are going to give to their grandmother. Sit down with your promotional marketing partner and come up with a "take away" that will not only relate to the target audience, but be memorable and useful as well.
Dress The Part - Don't show up in a T-shirt and jeans...unless it's a denim convention ;) Look professional, approachable and knowledgeable.
Know Your Surroundings - As silly as this may sound, being able to tell the people you are speaking to where the nearest bathroom is or what you recommend to eat from the concession counter are all different ways to keep your customer engaged with you while building a natural trust between the two of you.
Don't Sell The Product
The internet is an amazing tool. Unfortunately for you, almost everything someone could ever hope to learn about any product can be found online in some fashion. Instead, SELL YOU! Be honest with yourself ... there are a million insurance agents, disc jockeys, roofers, and people that sell blenders. What's going to separate you from the next competitor is your personality and connection with the future customer...and this is your chance to do that last part - face to face!