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September 10, 2013

Get ready to exhibit this fall… part 2 of a 3-part series

It’s SHOWTIME!  Are you ready to exhibit?booth 1

This 3-part blog series will provide some insider tips on managing your exhibiting efforts BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the event.  This week…

Part 2: DURING the event

The fact is, most firms have no idea how to effectively ‘work a show.’  The pop up their booth, set down a table and a couple of chairs, print some literature and think they’re ready.  Virtually no thought goes into how to create an experience inside the booth that generates a very positive perception in the eyes of everyone who comes in the booth.  Here are 11 tips to help you do that…

  • No chairs allowed!  Never sit.  When sitting, you look lazy and uninterested – and prospective clients will sense this and walk on by.
  • No eating or drinking in the booth – it looks unprofessional and you certainly don’t want to spill your drink.
  • Never leave the booth unattended – ever!
  • Never – and I mean never – put a table across the front of your booth.  It creates a barrier between you and a prospective client – and why would you want that?
  • Don’t waste your money on ‘swag.’ Money spent on giveaways can be better used for pre-show marketing or to entertain a prospective client while you’re at the conference.
  • Consider a ‘uniform’… maybe have the entire booth team wear polo shirts in the corporate colors and with a logo.
  • Activity/motion in the booth will draw attention.  At the very least, have a laptop running a looping Powerpoint presentation or company video.
  • Silence your cell phone.  You do not want a good conversation with a prospective client to be interrupted.
  • Ask the right questions.  As you’re standing in your booth, smiling, the one question you should never ask but almost everyone does is, “Can I help you?” The response… “No, thanks.  Just looking.” (Others might ask, “How are you today?” The response to which is, “Fine, thanks.”) Your goal is to engage passers-by in some sort of conversation that then leads to a business discussion.  Try, for instance, “Hello, John, what’s brings you to the conference this year?” or “Good morning, Mary, do you use much online qualitative research at [insert company name from her name tag]?”
  • Have both good literature and cheap literature.  Many visitors to your booth will not be qualified or ready to talk about purchasing decisions.  No need to give them your very expensive, glossy corporate brochure.  Instead, give them a nice, little (but still professional) overview sheet and save the good literature for the ‘hot’ leads.
  • Finally, never break down early.  If the exhibits close at 5pm, wait until 5:01pm (even if the other exhibitors have already started).  There are always a number of attendees who save their walking-around-the-exhibits for the end of the last day.  If you break down early, you miss them.

Exhibiting at conferences could easily be your biggest marketing expense all year… prepare and execute properly and you gain a competitive advantage over those other firms who just stumble their way through.

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