It’s expensive to exhibit at trade shows, and a big time commitment. I’m a regular at trade shows for the cheese industry – and I’ve developed trade show techniques and strategies to standout in the crowd and get remembered. My trade show strategies can work for anyone IF they’re willing to learn.
This article was originally published in AMA Playbook
It’s expensive to exhibit at trade shows, as well as a significant time commitment.Your ROI on trade shows will pay off when you realize that your goal is to make contacts and build relationships – not to make sales. The sales come later: your first priority is to get noticed and be memorable at trade shows – in a good way! Thousands of visitors attend a trade show, pass by each booth, and make snap decisions on which companies deserve their time and which ones do not. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
1. Dress to Impress
Attracting visitors to your booth requires a visually appealing display, products, and a personal appearance that screams success, professionalism, and confidence. When you are glad-handing hundreds of buyers whose business you want, they might not necessarily remember your name, but they will remember the impression you make. They remember how you represent yourself, your company, and your products. Your personal appearance is part of your company’s brand.
At many trade shows, it’s easy to identify the product by what the booth staff is wearing: the tech teams are wearing cool t-shirts and the sales guys are wearing suits. Be careful to dress comfortably yet professionally for each venue. A business suit is less impressive when you’re barefoot because your high heels hurt after 8 hours or the hand you stretch out to shake has dirty fingernails. In your appearance, the details count: make sure the impression you leave is the message you want to deliver.
2. Be Memorable – In a Good Way
Conformity is not your goal at trade shows: you do not want to blend into the background. Your booth and your attire must meet exhibitor guidelines and professional standards. Trade show attendees won’t remember your cool signage: but they will remember your team and how they look, act, and interact while representing your business.
Choosing the right team to staff your booth is critical to trade show success. The most technically knowledgeable person on your team may not be the right personality to attract visitors to your booth: just as the most attractive person on your team may not be the best person to talk to trade show attendees. Choose motivated, knowledgeable, friendly staff to make a memorable impression. Train your team to behave professionally at the trade show – not just in your booth! Those t-shirts with your company logo send a strong message outside your booth about who works at your business.
3. Get Out in Front
Step out from behind your booth. Interact and engage with attendees. Don’t be afraid to approach trade show attendees instead of waiting for them to approach you. You’re there to “exhibit” so be “on display!” Train your staff to welcome and invite by-passers into your booth and learn about their business and what their needs are by asking questions and listening to the answers.
Design your booth to encourage interaction with visitors: product demonstrations, interactive displays, and the right giveaway are strategic yet non-aggressive tactics to welcome attendees to your booth.
One more trade show tip: while the show attendees are in session, go around and meet your fellow exhibitors. Yes, they may be the competition: but they may also be your next customer!
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