Gareth Parkin, CEO and founder of GoPromotional, an online leader of marketing and promotional products in the UK. Gareth possesses keen insights in the world of marketing, branding, and sales through his own company’s growth from the ground up. He routinely shares ideas and input in both directions with GoPromotional’s client base as well, a wealth of industry knowledge.
4 Surefire Ways to Maximize Your Booth's Performance
Getting into a trade show is easy. Squandering that opportunity is easy, too. If you go into your first trade show (or your second, or third or fourth…) with a too-casual mindset, a noncompetitive approach and high expectations, you’re in for a bad time.
While it’s up to trade show organizers to attract attendees, it’s up to you to win them over, and simply being there won’t cut it. Your booth must make an impression. Whether you’re dealing with a hybrid audience or you’re setting up at an industry-only fair, you have to stand out, and that’s easier said than done in today’s marketing world. To ensure your trade show outing isn’t just a waste of time and money, there are a few simple but important guidelines that will get you on the right track.
Your Trade Show Team
If there’s any occasion that calls for your A-Team, this is the one. Your trade show crew should be the very embodiment of your brand’s attitude, philosophy and expertise. A polished, clean, confident assembly of your star staff will make your booth instantly more welcoming and appealing. Don’t be afraid to compartmentalize, too; for every one or two representatives who excel in marketing and sales but lack back-end competence, throw in a “mechanic” to help them answer the tougher questions, especially if you occupy a complex industry where there’s often a disconnect between technical operation and presentation. Let your staff focus on their strengths instead of being distracted by their weaknesses. And, for good measure, have a little diversity on display if you can. No matter what type of business you do, people like to see men and women of different backgrounds accomplishing something together.
Again, appearances matter. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: your booth should look good. That’s good, not necessarily expensive. While there’s nothing wrong with a strong budget, you’re here to make money, not spend it. You don’t need the latest flat screen monitors, the best sound system, cutting-edge graphic design or a live band. You only need to look organized and clean, make proper use of color and be mindful of accessibility. For instance, if you decide on a text-heavy display, readability is key. Your literature should be visible and eye-catching to people walking by, not just those already investing their attention. Your colors should be friendly and ideally brand-specific, but not so vivid as to be distracting. Minimalism is always a safe bet, since busy visuals can get between your staff and your audience. Attendees will forgive a plain and functional booth, but clutter and visual noise will leave a bad taste and make you look sloppy.
The Experience vs. The Product
Think back to your last trade show, when you had a little time away from your booth to observe the competition or just sniff around for something interesting. What’s more memorable: the promising goods and services you might have seen on display, or the engaging, personable, human experiences you may have had? You know your product is good. If it’s not, well, turn back now and get back to the drawing board. You’re at a trade show because you have something to sell – something unique, innovative, competitive or otherwise different – and if you didn’t believe in it, you wouldn’t have come. Focus less on your product and more on the experience your booth can deliver.
Devise presentations that invite interaction and generate some gossip. Take advantage of that charismatic A-Team you assembled and get your audience to participate in games and four-dimensional experiences that demonstrate not just your product, but also the message and emotion behind it. Whatever kind of demonstration you decide on, make sure it reinforces your brand not just at the beginning and end, but throughout its middle. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling lossless data compression or pepper mills; your brand experience is more impactful than your product, and if they remember your name, that’s one small victory.
Keep Your Audience Moving
Your team rocks, your presentation hits like a lance and ideally, your booth itself is neat and functional. You’ve got the ingredients for success. Now, you have to remember why you’re here in the first place: planting seeds and generating leads. This will be up to your staff to execute, but their performance is ultimately based on your lead, so have a system in place to manage foot traffic and maximize your potential audience. Attendees should be in-and-out but shouldn’t feel rushed; ideally, your presentation’s end should be clear, and attendees should be naturally directed to reps ready to answer any questions, clear up any misunderstandings and most importantly, record their information. This is your end goal, and making sure your booth operates smoothly and makes efficient use of time will ensure you leave the floor with a long list of contacts when it’s time to tear down.