3 Strategies to a Successful Trade Show Exhibit
I just spent four days with 1,800 attorneys at the ILTA conference held at the Gaylord National Hotel and conference center in National Harbor, Maryland.
I’m a professional speaker who became “the business magician” after the focus of my work became trade shows, conventions and sales meetings. Below are my thoughts and tips for any company exhibiting at a trade show. They are applicable to any industry where people gather to talk to other people about how they can work together better, smarter and more effectively.
Trade shows are a lot of work and a huge investment. They’re also more important than ever because in our digital society, a one on one human interaction carries more weight than ever. To make your trade show attendance worth the investment of your company’s time and money, focus on three areas: the before, during and after.
Before the Trade Show:
Plan and prepare. Set goals, educate your team on your message, and get attendees excited to stop by the booth ahead of time. Email your clients and prospects and entice them to visit. Build anticipation, whether it’s to see a new product, meet the people on your team they’ve been emailing with, or meet and greet the world-class magician, expert or author you’ve hired to be at your booth.
During the Trade Show:
Be human. Be nice. Be welcoming. Be excited but not pushy. Be a sales person, but more importantly LISTEN and ask questions. Be ready to answer the question “what do you do” in multiple ways . To have the right answer will require the ability to listen and ask questions. Make sure your team is prepared and can direct the visitor to the right person, while helping to communicate their questions.
After the Trade Show:
Follow up while the energy is high. Send a quick thank you note immediately after the show to harness that connection. Then wait a few days, let people get back into their daily life, catch up on their emails. Then reach out with a specific request to connect to someone on their team. Set a meeting with a specific purpose and duration. Acknowledge up front what they can expect and what you will deliver.
If you and your team have established a human connection, and if you’ve created positive, emotional experiences at your booth, people will want to continue that relationship.
Remember that people hate to be sold, but they love to buy. And they like to do business with people they like.
I’ve attended dozens and dozens of trade shows with companies that don’t do any of this. They don’t prepare; they don’t show up with purpose; they don’t send their most educated, welcoming people; they sit in the corner and eat the free snacks; they give out paperwork to everyone and engage no one. And then they wonder why they get no ROI on their investment.
Don’t be like those companies. Invest your time, energy, money and knowledge into the before, during and after.
You don’t have to hire a magician to bring in the crowds, but it can certainly help.
And you don’t have to be a magician to create trade show “magic” at your booth. Just keep these ideas in mind, share them with your team, and remind them to Think Like A Magician™.