Understanding why people attend trade shows is the first step in establishing an effective game plan to engage trade show attendees. A 2013 report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reveals that 69 percent of trade show visitors attend to make purchases while an overlapping 66 percent go for educational purposes.Â
Attendees have also cited “checking out new technology” and “interacting with industry experts” as alternative trade show appeals. Using this information, you can craft ways to make attendee visits more worthwhile.
One of the most important decisions in making trade show presentations is deciding on staff members to represent your company. It’s very important that representatives understand the role they play in engaging with visitors.
It’s equally as important that representatives can identify their own strengths and weaknesses involving communication and company knowledge. Appropriately groomed representatives must have the ability to speak clearly, listen to attendees, exhibit positive energy and present the product effectively.
Representatives should always arrive early and prepared for the event. You certainly don’t want them to be too “sales-y”, so give them some keywords to message into conversations with attendees.
Try to find professionals who can give your company a positive impression in terms of both knowledge and communication skills. Instruct them to engage with attendees as much as possible and to initially keep it light and conversational. Representatives should also be aware to keep aisles open and socialize with other staff members as little as possible. Remain focused on the attendees, not each other.
Since attendees expect to interact with industry professionals, representatives should take every opportunity to talk with as many attendees as possible. Again, this style of communication should not be persuasive like a sales pitch. It should lean more toward being informative and entertaining. Finding out what interests your attendees and what brought them by your booth in the first place.
Be as personable as possible, without coming on too strong. Attendees wearing name tags should be addressed by their name, which strengthens relationships from the beginning.
Seize every opportunity when someone stops by the booth to pick up a brochure by starting a conversation. You can easily begin by asking questions about their interests, or simply ask how they are enjoying the show. While it’s important to keep all communication professional, it’s okay to engage in off-topic conversations with attendees as a way to continue building the relationship.
It should go without saying that your brand should be easily recognizable by your trade show display. In addition to your display, offering attendees marketing materials is extremely important. If an attendee walks away from your booth without something in their hand, there’s a good chance it will be a forgotten experience. That’s why you need to hand them a business card (at minimum) or a brochure with contact information to keep the interactivity moving forward. Memorable marketing materials need to creatively capture the essence of your business in a unique manner.
Getting the attendee’s contact information is just as important as giving them marketing materials. The more contact information you can gain from attendees, the stronger your follow-up campaign will be.
It can often be a good strategy to prequalify certain attendees, apply attributes, or take notes in regards to potential clients so you have a foundation to build upon when you follow up after the trade show.
It’s important to note, though, that roughly 80% of all leads garnered at trade shows are never followed up with. There are innovative lead retrieval systems that have been created to assist exhibitors in the follow up process. This is arguably the most important step. After all, what’s the point of putting your product on display if you’re not going to have the capacity to correctly accumulate contact info to eventually convert into sales?
About the Author
Chris Jones is a freelance writer covering all things current.