The aisles were not all that crowded from the projected 30,000 attendees at IHMRS in NYC in November. Yet, some booths remained consistently busy while others were mostly dead. Why the difference?
Based on my observations, busy booths were staffed by engaging, purposeful, positive individuals. Also the busy booths clearly displayed operator benefits, while quiet booths merely exhibited equipment or supplies with no clearly defined benefits or ROI. In which camp does your exhibit stand?
Based on attending IHMRS, NRA, NAFEM, FMI, RBA and many major trade shows for more than 30 years, let me share some of what I’ve learned. To help you make the most of your upcoming trade shows, I can boil it down to 7 primary principles:
1. DEFINE WHAT EACH SUCCESSFUL TRADE SHOW WILL LOOK LIKE. Do you want to establish new contacts with XX attendees from chains? Schedule XX meetings with current customers to introduce a new product? Start conversations with XX new distributors or sales reps? Present new products to XX industry editors?
2. SELL KEY PROSPECTS IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS. Can you communicate – in the length of a tweet – why a qualified visitor to your booth should want to buy?
If not, you may need a Messaging Workshop to hone your mantra. Or you may want research to verify the importance of the message.
3. REACH KEY PROSPECTS BEFORE THE SHOW. Which of the thousands, or tens of thousands of attendees would make your show a success if they visited your booth? 75% of today’s attendees come to an exhibition with a “must see” list. (Center for Exhibition Industry Research)
If you want them to schedule time to visit your booth you need to get on their list through pre-show promotion. Yet, less than 20% of exhibitors actually conduct some form of pre-show promotion! Here’s a big opportunity to make key prospects want to visit your booth.
4. TRANSFORM YOUR BOOTH INTO A BILLBOARD. The typical attendee walks by a 20-foot booth in less than 5 seconds. How quickly, clearly and powerfully will your booth communicate a compelling reason to slow down and look at your booth?
5. WHEN THEY SLOW DOWN, START TALKING. A Skyline survey of 3,000 trade show attendees reveals that booth staffers started 89% of the engagements with the attendees. So you need to train booth staffers how to engage visitors and create leads.
6. CONVERT NAFEM LEADS TO SALES. 50% of leads buy within 24 months and 80% of sales occur after the 5th contact — but only 20% of leads are followed up. (Sources: Sirius Decisions, Aberdeen Group) When you increase meaningful contacts with qualified leads after the show, you increase your conversion of leads into sales.
7. MEET WITH 8 OR MORE INFLUENTIAL EDITORS. Trade editors have the power to carry your message beyond the show. Don’t neglect them. Do you have the resources and relationships to deliver key editors to your booth and maximize post-show publicity opportunities?
As you can see, when you’re in the speed-dating environment at trade shows, your exhibit and your booth team need to work hard and work together. How many tools can you use to proactively draw in prospects?