Every company that exhibits in tradeshows should provide some pre-show training to exhibitors. In addition, when a show producer or event manager provides exhibitor training on goal setting, effective display design, sales strategies, promotions and follow up, exhibitors will be much more productive at the show. A trained exhibit staff will collect 20% more leads than a company with no training. Believe me, I know from experience that it is rare to find an exhibitor that has ever had a comprehensive course on how to create a great exhibit or work the show. Most companies have never provided exhibitor training and veteran exhibitors who think they have so much experience, actually have been making the same mistakes for years. Show producers would benefit greatly by offering training to exhibitors in their shows. An effective training seminar will foster their loyalty, add value to your booth package, reduce turn-over, improve professionalism on the show floor and give your event a competitive edge. Providing education about networking, effective promotions and marketing strategies will generate free publicity, drive traffic to the show and improve sponsorship sales. When you give exhibitors relevant tools and training to maximize returns on their investment you will be remembered as the show producer that does more than just sell booth space. In addition, studies show that meeting an exhibit marketing expert in person, getting questions answered on the spot, seeing real-world examples in action and learning it all from someone other than you or your staff will produce the best results.
Here’s a start: The Exhibit Experts Top Ten Tips for a Terrific Show
Begin preparations for each event well in advance. Order show services and schedule shipping early. Evaluate display properties for damage. Attention to details will eliminate headaches and save you time and money
Know what you want to accomplish at the show. Create a list of goals with the staff. Make expectations clear. Reward exceptional productivity.
Design A Dynamic Display:
Image is everything. You have only seconds to attract attention. Receive maximum visibility with a coordinated theme and interesting merchandising methods.
Reinforce your marketing message:
Sell benefits! Use large pictures, vibrant colors and minimal text to promote solutions and results.
Project a positive image:
First impressions are critical. Every display element of your display must reflect your company’s professionalism, personality, integrity and style.
Train you staff
80% of attendees base their opinion of your company on the actions of the employees at your booth. Prepare your people.
Develop a sales strategy
Script a presentation that engages, excites, educates and encourages a desired action fom attendees. Require the staff to follow it as a guide.
Contact all leads within one week. Phone, fax, email or mail information that solicits an appointment, interview or sale. Include a deadline for reply.
Nothing makes a more memorable impression than happy, smiling employees eager to assist inquisitive prospects.
Factor in some fun
Loosen up. Don’t be to conservative. Show attendees want to be entertained as well as informed. Successful exhibitors combine the two.
We’re Baaaaack! Yes tradeshow attendance, booth sales and number of shows are on the rise again. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research recently reported that 48 per cent of tradeshow attendees said face to face interactions at expos, tradeshows and conventions are more valuable today than two years ago and expect that satisfaction will grow. I saw it first hand at Exhibitor 2013, the largest tradeshow for the tradeshow industry. The show had shrunk over the last three years, but this year the exhibit hall was packed with attendees with healthy budgets. There were many new display manufacturers and suppliers launching products into the marketplace and industry giants were out in full force introducing many new and innovative display concepts. One of my favorite veteran manufacturers is Featherlite Exhibits. This family owned company is heading into their 50th year in business. Three generations of family members currently work in the company that was started by the grandfather that invented the portable folding panel system.
Tradeshows, consumer shows and conventions are not going away no matter how hard the government tries to monkey with our industry. There is no better way to launch a product, brand a company and meet thousands of new prospects than at a face to face event.
I got inspiration for this post after walking through several exhibit halls at the conferences I have been speaking at recently and of course, from David Letterman’s top ten list. These issues have a way of really messing up a perfectly great display and making your booth staff and your company look unprofessional. I’m here to offer advice if you need some work in these areas.
The plans for assembling the display were not in the crate so the I&D crew set up the booth backwards
It takes the average attendee 22.6 seconds to figure out what your company does
The booth decor includes an assortment of half empty cardboard boxes
Cleavage appears to be part of the dress code
An entire 20’ exhibit is stuffed into a 10×10 booth space
Three chairs are blocking the view of that brand new $5000 graphic mural
Three guys in suits are sitting in those chairs talking to each other
A bowl filled with kit-kats and snickers is the preferred method of customer engagement
The front counter doubles as a dinner table
A magnifying glass is required to read the long list of features under the mission statement on the banner stand
A badge-swipe has replaced the need to ask qualifying questions
The decorator’s ugly cardboard I.D. sign is still hanging from the rear drape
I have so much fun traveling to different cities teaching tradeshow and consumer show exhibitors how to turn a booth into a powerful profit center. I especially enjoy talking with home show exhibitors and recently gave seminars in Orlando and Jacksonville Florida for Marketplace Events. Their event management team impressed me with their show statistics and their sincere desire to give their exhibitors all the tools they need to succeed. Smart show producers understand that increasing the profits and elevating the professionalism of their exhibitors not only benefits the exhibiting company, but also improves the attendee experience. When they asked exhibitors in Orlando why they signed up to be in their show, 88% said there number one reason to exhibit was so they could collect leads. Ironically only a small percentage of those exhibitors actually collected leads. Nationally, according to CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Reseach), 74% of exhibitors collect leads, but only 85% of those leads are ever followed up. Some training would help eliminate that mistake. I find it interesting that when I ask my seminar attendees if they have ever had any formal tradeshow training from an exhibit marketing expert rarely do I find anyone who has. Show producers, I’m available. So are 7-10 other fantastic speakers who can give your exhibitors strategies to work the show like a pro. Remember that happy exhibitors = successful shows.
I recently returned from the ASI Show which is the convention and tradeshow for the Advertising Specialties Institute where I presented seminars to the suppliers on exhibit marketing and attracting and using free publicity. After the sessions I visited a few of the exhibitors on the show floor who signed up for my one-on-one personal booth evaluations. Several suppliers were first time exhibitors, but most were tradeshow veterans. Regardless of their experience I was able to offer a few recommendations for improvement to each of them. One mistake they all had in common was leaving unsightly product boxes and supply bags out where attendees could see them. When there are cardboard boxes spilling over with stuff right in front of your beautiful display it causes an immediate disconnect and detracts from your professional image. Quality of signage was another issue. I know vinyl banners are quick and cheap, but an eight foot vinyl company sign hanging on the back curtain from metal grommets gives the impression that the business does not cares about its image or designed their booth at the last minute. If was refreshing to see that each booth needed only a few design adjustments to make it really great. Moving a counter to the corner to make it easier to enter the booth. Aligning product shelves so they don’t block the messages on your graphics. Elevating brochures in an acrylic holder instead of fanning them out on a table. Placing products or give-aways in unique containers to add interest and attract attention. The next time you set up your booth at a show, step back when you are done and take a critical look at your environment through the eyes of your customer. Is there anything you could do better? Is there a way to make your company look more professional? Is there something you can do to better facilitate the customer experience or improve the merchandising of your products and services? The results from that extra evaluation could make the difference between whether an attendee stops at your booth or passes you by.
Got a question about tradeshow marketing? Ask the Exhibit Expert, Susan Ratliff. [email protected]