Trade shows, expos, home and garden shows, county fairs, community events, networking, and similar events can be a great way to advertise your products or services if you do them right.
I have enjoyed working with and helping promote different events over the years. Here in northern Utah, I helped create and then manage for several years the Cache Valley Home & Garden Show and helped expand and grow the Logan Gift Show.
Here are five key principles I’ve learned that will help your show experience be more successful. The first two tips focus on the event and the last three focus on your presentation at the event.
1. KNOW THE PROMOTER & THE SHOW
Knowing who is organizing, managing, and promoting the show can help you make a strategic decision if it’s a good fit for your business. Some shows have established companies behind them which should help with organization, management, and promotion.
Here are a few questions you should answer:
- How many years has the show been running?
- Have you put on other events before?
- What do other vendors say about the show?
- How many vendors will be at the show?
- Is it a juried event with vendors approved beforehand?
- How many vendors allowed per category?
- How will the show be promoted?
2. KNOW THE SHOW AUDIENCE
Shows and expos tend to be either very general or very specific. A home and garden show, for instance, will generally have a large variety of businesses, everything from builders and landscapers to those offering insurance products and nutritional supplements. Thus the audience the show attracts will tend to be pretty general as well. Trade shows tend to be more specific to an industry.
Consider if the show will attract the right type of potential customers and enough of them.
3. CREATE VISUAL INTERACTION
How your booth space looks is the most critical factor. If it doesn’t look attractive, interesting and/or intriguing, you will have a hard time securing the attention of those walking by.
Your booth space should clearly indicate what you are offering at the show. If your business offers a wide variety of products or services, consider focusing on a few core areas the show audience will best connect with.
Try to make your booth space appealing if viewed from a distance. For instance, look at the vendor booths in the photo above. Notice which booths are attractive and communicate effectively what they are offering. And which ones do not.
Signage is important. A booth space clearly communicating the business name and/or service will better attract people specifically looking for what you offer.
A mini checklist would include:
- Signage for clear name recognition.
- Be on brand, top to bottom.
- Visually showcase what you do.
- Attractively organize your booth space to make it inviting.
4. CREATE PHYSICAL INTERACTION
You are creating a mini-store and you want it to look just as inviting as a real store would. An inviting vendor booth will arouse curiosity and encourage people to come closer and interact. Here are a few suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of your booth space.
- Standing makes you more approachable and encourages interaction.
- Stand in the front of your booth, not behind a table that acts as a wall.
- Avoid using banquet size tables in standard 10×10 foot booth spaces as they consume so much space.
- Have something to do or something people can interact with.
- Incorporating a cool conversation piece will help attract interest.
- Offer samples, if appropriate, or demonstration.
5. CREATE FUTURE INTERACTION
The experience you create with visitors to your booth will dictate their responsiveness after the show. Implementing a few simple solutions will increase the return on your time and money invested in the show.
- Collect contact information and prioritize for follow-up.
- Prepare follow-up emails specifically connected to the event.
- Brochures, business cards, and other marketing material.
- Branded promotional items such as pens, key chains, mini flashlights.
- Schedule a time to meet for a bid, walk-through, demonstration.
- Use their name as they are leaving (ie. it was nice to visit Tom).
- Say thanks, a most often overlooked gesture.
BONUS – CONVERSATION STARTERS
Consider a visitor to your booth as a potential customer. This will help you create ways to have good conversations. Here are two simple tips to get started.
1. Prepare in advance a few questions you can ask. A few of my favorites are:
- What brings you to the show?
- Have you seen or experienced (your product)?
- What’s your opinion on the show, product, service, etc.?
- Offer an incentive to stop, such as, “Can I offer you a free _____?
Notice, yes/no questions, like, “Are you enjoying the show?” are not as strong as simple open-ended questions such as I have suggested.
2. Focus on eye contact, smiling, and nodding.
Your body language conveys what you’re really feeling. Good eye contact, smiling, and nodding will convey you’re listening, sincerely interested, and engaged.
If your eyes are wandering you’re clearly communicating a lack of interest. Checking your phone while having a conversation is showing a lack of respect and is the fastest way to send them to someone else.
Every part of a good customer experience is designed to help them move closer to finding suitable solutions to fixing their problems and/or achieving their dreams. This is true wherever you interact with potential customers, inside or away from your business.
Implementing a few of these ideas will help you “Earn the Right for the Next Conversation” after the event.
Drop me a note if you would like help creating the focus, clarity, and impact needed to make your next event an even better success.
FEATURE PHOTO: ADunwoody07 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45058936
I invite you to sign up for a powerful 30-minute complimentary coaching call If you’re ready to “Gain The Red Edge” by creating focus, clarity, and impact.