I think if you were to ask me for a top 10 trade show tips, they would vary almost every day. Every day we see so many companies making so many mistakes. I had someone point out to me the other day, that I don't actually write about Total Displays and our business that much. Our posts tend to focus on excellence in business.
Of course being a trade show exhibit, accessories, training and services provider, that is what we eat, live, sleep and breathe every day.
So here are a few unsolicited tips for the day.
1. Be Different
This is a difficult one for many. As you walk the trade show floor and look at inlines you see so many people that just don't stand out at all. I understand that everyone has budgets to consider. But if you don't stand out at a trade show then you are wasting your money paying for floor space. I see so many people putting their brand and their messaging on banner stands or traditional pop-ups. Don't get me wrong, banner stands have a place and purpose, but creating an inline booth with banner stands does not make you stand out. We have often seen 10 x 30's done with all banner stands. You want something to catch your eye, make someone pause. That is, enough of a pause for you to start a conversation with someone.
2. Updated Graphics
Be sure your graphics and messaging are clear. Anyone that comes by your booth should be able to identify what you do very quickly. Make sure your brand is followed and consistent. For example don't have different logos or tags interspersed throughout your booth. Stay true to your brand's colors. We have seen graphics that are dirty, ripped, not correctly installed on the frame. This, of course, all represents your brand and your company in a negative light.
3. Display Hardware In Working Order
We watched a large company at a large grocers show working to set up their booth. No one had checked the booth before it went out to make sure it was in working order. We could hear them on the phone with the booth supplier asking what their options were. Guess what the answer was, NONE. Booths held together with duct tape, zip ties, binder clips? We have seen it all. The show attendees see it and notice it too.
4. Booth Staff Training
As you know, this could be an entire blog post about behavior, clothing etc. Here is what I will say for today. Train your staff. There are a lot of companies, like ours, that offer booth staff training. You are paying a lot of money to exhibit at a trade show. If your booth staff is not representing your company well it can be a waste of money.
5. Booth Staff Selection
Don't overcrowd an inline booth with staff. You want people to be able to come into your booth and engage with you. Be sure you select the best staff for the size of the show and the products being represented. Don't just send the new sales rep either. First time in a booth with limited product/company knowledge can be dangerous.
6. Booth Interaction
This could be as simple as a give away. You want a give away that people will wear or that they will carry around. This will generate interest and people will be looking for your booth. Give aways that light up are big right now. Contact your local supplier. We do not sell give away items but if you want some advice, we are happy to help. Other simple ideas include touch screen technology (see #7), spin to win games, contests and more.
Even in an inline booth you can incorporate technology. Touch screen technology that mirrors to a monitor on your backwall is a great draw. We have some great technology solutions, if you would like a demonstration. Cell phone charging stations, iPad kiosks, and electronic games are also good choices.
8. CRM Usage
If you are not using CRM, you should be. You should be tracking leads from each show to see how many you are getting and what are the results from those leads. This will tie into number 9.
9. Follow Up
Don't wait for months to follow up. If you give your leads out to distributors make sure they are distributed quickly. Remember these leads may have seen other companies with similar products. With technology solutions like our lead retrieval/touch screen/content management solution you can follow up with people during the show. You can deliver the content they are interested in, just as they leave your booth. Talk about immediate gratification. I have seen too many companies take forever to distribute their leads to their reps.
10. Track ROI
I see people exhibiting at shows with no return on investment. I see people not exhibiting at shows that should be. Research shows. Talk to other exhibitors. Track the number of attendees. Be sure to accumulate all your costs to see what a show is really costing you. There are a number of ROI calculators out there. The key is how detailed do you really want to be. There are also a number of subjective things that should be considered/measured. We can help you get started on this if you have no idea where to start!
A good trade show exhibit company will partner with you and help you in more than just booth design/selection. Choose a partner that is strategic in nature and help you with your entire trade show exhibit and marketing program! Choose a partner with multiple product lines, training workshops and more. They are a partner not just a vendor.
Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.