For some, fall may signify cooler temperatures and flights of leaves falling from trees. In the business community, autumn also means it is time to hit the show floor – it’s the start of trade show season! Exhibiting at a trade show can help promote a company’s products and services but getting the biggest bang for your buck requires strategic planning and preparation. If your plan is simply to send a few company reps to staff the booth, you’re missing out on the opportunity to create a powerful trade show presence that draws in potential clients and press attention.
How can you make the most of fall trade show season? By being prepared prior to stepping foot in the booth!
Following are a few tips to get the maximum value from your time on the show floor:
Boost Booth Staff Behavior – Make sure your staff represents your company in the finest way possible. There’s a great “oldie but goodie” trade show training film by John Cleese of Monty Python fame called “How Not to Exhibit Yourself.” Grab a copy and schedule a viewing time with your team. Through systematic training sessions, assess their general attitude, qualifications, conversation and engagement ability, body language and nonverbal skills, and general aptitude. By observing your booth staff during training sessions, you will be aware of each member’s strengths and weaknesses, making it substantially easier to judge your company’s overall effectiveness and match the right person to the right assignment.
Strengthen Staff Selling Skills– During your trade show training, cover product and services topics making clear the company’s “elevator” message and value proposition. Be sure to emphasize skill development, coupled with trade show etiquette. Each booth staff member should know the ins and outs of the products and how to appropriately approach potential customers and engage them in productive conversation. Educate your team in order to make the right impression!
Turn your Talent on – After all, it’s a show! Motivating people to visit your booth requires a staff that is motivated, energetic and enthusiastic. Since working a trade show does not always entice employees - especially given long days on their feet, time out of the office and added preparation involved - consider using incentive ideas for maximum benefit. Gift certificates, lead generation contests or offering paid time off will go a long way towards energizing your booth staff.
Prepare a Pre-Show Communication Strategy – Following your staff evaluation and training, make sure to designate the goals and objectives you expect to achieve from your investment in the trade show. Incorporate sales, marketing and PR objectives to this plan. Obtain mailing lists from show producers in advance and develop synched up Web, mail and email campaigns for maximum effectiveness. Create show specific advertising with a distinct call to action and be sure to engage your company with the press to generate coverage in show dailies and roundup articles.
Evaluate Strategies and Success – Immediately before traveling to the show, host a final meeting to ensure all staffers are still on the same page. Inspect appearances and make sure your team is well groomed and presentable. Lastly, rehearse to make sure each staff member knows his or her standing position, opening lines and facts. After the show, review lead response forms to assess whether the staff met the company’s standards for trade show performance. A post-event meeting to recap your successes will go a long way to helping close show-related business and set the stage for your next event.
Remember, additional preparation can take your company the extra mile at a trade show. Careful planning and well trained staffers will help your products and company name stand out brighter than the rest, drawing in prospects and press. To learn more about The Devon Group’s event management services, contact me.