Wednesday, December 2, 2009

10 Tips on Getting the most out of your next trade show

1. Plan ahead and set your goal
- Why are you doing this trade show? Is it to sell product, get leads, create top of mind awareness, to preempt your competition? Be sure to have a very specific goal in mind, write it out and track your results as the show progresses. If you go without a specific goal in mind you will not know if the show is a success.

2. Know your target market – needs assessment

- Who will attend this show? Contact the show coordinator who can provide a report from the previous year that will contain a lot of good information as to your target market. Once you know who the market you’ll want to know what their needs are.

- Get a list of vendors from the previous year and call them – ask them who showed up, what the show was like and what to expect.

3. Touch them 3 times

- When prospects attend a show they rarely know who they will be visiting – less than 15% of exhibitors do a pre-show promotion. You are now in that group! Attendees only spend time at 15% to 20% of the exhibits so if you want their time, you need to invite them to your booth before thy get there. If you want to generate “guaranteed” prospects – this is how to do it!

- Start early send a postcard inviting your prospects to your booth – give them a strong reason to visit, specials, information, raffle, etc.
- Call prospects if possible and invite them personally, set appointments with them – “stop by our booth we have a special gift and presentation just for our VIPs –print the name of those that confirm on a sheet that says VIP LIST across the top. When they arrive take out the list, check off their name, give them a gift then pitch them! (keep the list confidential so as not to insult any other prospects visiting your booth).

- Send a formal letter. Send tickets, a flyer with raffle information, a testimonial and handwritten note, a product sheet with come see us at the show! Make sure you hit them at least 3 times before they get there. Even if they did not respond to your mailings you are now in their mind – you have increased the likelihood that they will stop at your booth.

4. The 1 minute pitch

- You only have 6 seconds to capture a prospects attention when walking past your booth. If your booth design and message are great and the prospect stops – you better be ready – the clock is ticking still! Have a condensed 1 minute pitch that covers everything you need to qualify the lead and meet your goal (that’s right, no matter how giddy you get that someone stops by – don’t forget your goal) - remember your job is not to sell your whole company – you have developed a clear focused goals i.e.: create 25 qualified leads for our ABC Service. Once your have clearly met that goal – let your prospect go – your follow up procedure will do the rest.

- Your pitch should be all about the prospect – NOT YOUR COMPANY that comes later. If you are a financial services company, talk about the financial challenges people have today and the need people have to develop a strong financial plan including savings, insurance, college and retirement – Do not start out with facts about your company which was founded in 1912 by some old guys with beards! Once you developed that pitch – rehearse it – a lot. In the mirror, on the phone, to friends, to your dog! Rehearse it.

5. The invitation – Have a good Great reason to visit your booth

- This is simple - come up with a reason for your prospects to visit your booth – then invite them. Whether it’s your giveaway, raffle, new product, a demonstration, discount on services for all VIP visitors or an announcement of a merger or partnership, you must have a compelling reason to come. Then as I mentioned before – mail it, e-mail it and call with the invitation. If your reason is compelling enough they will make plans to visit your booth.

6. Giveaways, “the raffle”, and interested prospects
- Giveaways are good but they do not get you business. Pens, flashlights, scrunchy balls are nice and these days expected however the key is the raffle. The raffle is a great way to “qualify” the prospects and weed out the people that are there for the FREE stuff. Most exhibitors understand this concept but rarely implement it. Exhibitors typically hold a raffle then giveaway the prize – maybe send a postcard to the rest of the list then do it all over again the following year. To get the most out of the raffle you must ASK some qualifying questions. When you do your review later on you will know exactly who is interested in your product or service, and who is not.

- Nobody wants to fumble through 200 sheets of unqualified leads and deal with the frustration of calling each one of them only to hear “not interested”. Do the work upfront and save yourself the aggravation. Qualify all entries – they must fill out ALL information on a form to enter the raffle. You should ask for E-MAIL so you can build your opt-in e-mail list, be sure to let them know that you will be e-mailing them from time to time with specials and promotions – get their interest level, purchase timeframe and decision makers in the process and whatever else you need to create a REAL, QUALIFIED LEAD.

- The information you will be collecting on the raffle sheet should be the same information you collect when someone approaches you to discuss your product or service. This keeps everything consistent and lets you know – once you have all the information – you can let the qualified prospect go. Remember the goal – qualify them then set them free.

7. The booth message

- Capture their attention. Don’t tell them who you are!!! Usually the biggest mistake when designing a booth. The name scrawled across the top of the booth – the most precious piece of real estate at a trade show. Nice design is nice design – a good message is powerful. Your prospects are walking right past you – you can’t afford not to have a message that CAPTURES them. Your message needs to be prominent to the point of trade show graphics do not need to be expensive, they do not need to be flashy they need to communicate your message clearly, and quickly. How quick – you have 6 seconds to capture their attention.

8. The booth graphics
- Great trade show graphics will convey your GREAT message. If they are beat up, mismatched with different materials and sizes your message will be just as confusing. Having your graphics produced by a qualified professional will make the difference between a “decent” show and a “blowout”!

- So when your graphics are being designed and produced you want to keep some things in mind.
o Message, Message, Message
o Colors and images that convey your message
o If your designer doesn’t know the emotions elicited by different colors – get a new designer. (remember the 6 seconds rule)
o Your booth and graphics are a big investment and should be designed and produced by a qualified professional who will consult with you on developing your message within your budget.
o A good trade show booth does not have to be expensive and an expensive trade show booth does not have to be good.

- Follow up right away – give a discount for all visitors at the show – get them interested in your product or service again. Remember when they leave your booth they will most likely go to another – the prospect has a lot of information to digest now – you need to stay fresh in their mind with a timely follow up.

- We did a recent show in which we received over 60 leads of varying interest levels. All leads went into our database, follow ups were scheduled and the process began. Within the first two weeks we had no response to any e-mails or phone calls (there were two e-mails and one phone call). In week three we sent a third e-mail – 5 responses 3 orders. Week four produced 4 orders with no e-mails or calls.

- Remember you need to touch your prospects up to 12 times. Three times before the show. Once at the show. Then at least 4 follow ups send useful information each time, ads, newspaper mentions etc. Don’t give up – you will be surprised at the power of consistent “informational” follow ups.

10. BONUS: here are 4 minitips in one!!!!
- Killer mini tip #1 - Don’t EVER sit down in your booth - Studies show that people will pay 26% more for the exact same product if the vendor is standing!
- Killer mini tip #2 - Smile, always be smiling, don’t frown, and smile (get it?) If you can smile at the prospect then say their name, you have successfully opened the door – now just apply your 1 minute pitch!
- Killer mini tip #3 - Look relaxed / be relaxed – Body language is extremely important – many prospects walking by are actually “nervous” about stopping because you might ask them a question they don’t know the answer to. If you are relaxed then you are approachable and they are more likely to engage you.
- Killer mini tip #4 - Make them feel important – BECAUSE THEY ARE! Make every discussion about them, not you. Which approach will be more effective?
- Example 1: “Hi we are XYC carpet cleaners, we have been in business for 22 years, I’m sure you’ve heard about us. We are so great and better than everyone and blah, blah, blah.”
- Example 2: “So are you enjoying your day so far – let me ask your advice – have you ever used a carpet cleaning service? What would you like to see in a cleaning service if it was up to you?”

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