8 Tips For Getting Better-Than-Average Results From Your First Tradeshow or Expo in New Zealand

1. All the best booths gone? Only a few right at the back to choose from? Fine!

Don’t worry too much about your location.

You instinctively think that a high traffic area would be better, but don’t make that assumption (most people assume that a #1 position using google Adwords is the best, but you end up attracting “click-happy” people who reduce your conversion rates and burn through your cash)

Most visitors will walk around the entire tradeshow/expo. You’ll get a chance at making a connection wherever you are. So don’t stress about it. (And if you wait until the last minute you can get some really good discounts from the organisers!)

2. Say hi to everyone who walks past. Everyone. (And everytime they walk past)

There’s a fine line between looking desperate, and being friendly and approachable.

But the simple act of saying hi has a profound psychological effect.

It taps in to a basic human need – the need for connection.   In response, most will turn and give your posters and branding a chance to speak to them.

3. Bring your hottest employees

Everyone likes a bit of eye candy at tradeshows and expos. If they know your product inside out, all the better.

4. Minimise your branding, maximise the benefits you are offering

This may be hard to hear, but no-one really cares about your brand.  They only care about themselves and if you can help them.

So don’t make the classic mistake of branding the background of your booth with huge logos. The trick is to write benefit driven headlines and bullet points.

The purpose is to give walkers-by a snapshot of what you do so they can decide if they need your services.  This way, you get  the visitors who want the benefits you state in your headline and bullet points, to stop and talk to you, and everyone else walks away. Good! That’s what you want!

5. Write notes on business cards as you collect them

Write a few notes on the back of prospects business cards to remind you who they are later.

You could record your impressions about how likely they are to become clients.

And for bonus points, write a note about what they told you about their business to jog your memory later, so you can personalise your follow up email to them.

6. Don’t just require a business card for the prize draw, have an entry form

This is a common mistake.

You think that just asking people to pop a business card into the fish bowl or entry box is easy right?

Yes, it’s easy for them, but it’s hard for you.

It’s hard for you to determine if those prospects are real candidates for new business.

It’s hard for you to avoid wasting time on those that aren’t.

So on your entry form (A6 size, in pads bound with plastic coils work really well) have space to staple their business card to the form (and provide a stapler), and ask them filtering questions about their needs.

For example “what brand of accounting software are you currently using?” (if you sell accounting software), “how many employees to you have” (if you are selling HR services), “what’s the #1 annoying thing about xyz?”

There is nothing worse than drawing the winner to find someone completely unsuited to being a client of yours.  What a waste!

In fact, I suggest you go through the entries and throw the unsuitable entries in the bin before you do the draw.

7. What should the prize for the prize draw be?

You could go with a voucher for discounts on your services, or you could go with something with a much wider appeal like an iphone.

I say cast the net wide by offering the later, and let your entry form do the filtering for you.

8. Follow up super-fast

Have a follow-up plan in place before you go.

For example if it’s a 3 day trade show or expo, that night from your hotel, email the new contacts you made, just to say hi (you can sell to them later, this time you just want to stand out from the hundreds of people they met that day).  Or you might email the contact details to a staff member for sending out the next morning (using your email address).

One time I got a text message from an ANZ business banking rep just to say he enjoyed meeting me – within 5 minutes of leaving his booth! That made a huge impression.

What tips do you have to add?

Have you been to tradeshows and expo’s here in New Zealand? As an exhibitor? As a visitor? What have you seen or done that worked?  Write your thoughts in the comments below.

7 Replies to “8 Tips For Getting Better-Than-Average Results From Your First Tradeshow or Expo in New Zealand”

  1. Great tips Sheldon. I also think that having a competition of some kind on the stand to engage people with the product or service makes the brand far more memorable after the event. The true value at any event isn’t just about being present, the real value comes from memorable engagement with potential customers so that when they go home they want to find out more about the company. Well executed events is the key to delivering any company a valuable return on investment.

    Each event that a company attends should be considered and planned carefully in terms of defining the business objective and developing marketing collateral to fit with this objective. Any communications and marketing initiatives to drive people to the stand at an event should ideally be executed at least 1 month before each event in order to foster referrals and build momentum/interest beforehand.

    A strategy should also be put in place for every event to measure interest gained before and during the event, how leads will be captured and followed up after the event. I always recommend to clients to consider sending out a personalised direct mail piece within 2 – 3 weeks post event to anyone who expressed interest in the product or service with a strong ‘hook’ or call to action.

  2. Great post. I’ve included a link to a posting I wrote after a trade show experience.

    I think it’s really important for the people on the stand to be ‘on stage’ for the time they are ‘manning’ the stand. This could involve scripting the ‘catch-line’ to engage with potential customers & see the value of entering a draw or working with you.

    I’m continually amazed at how few draw entries get followed up. It’s worth employing someone just to enter the details in a database!

  3. Great comments and ideas, I also ensure:
    1) The stand is CLEAN AND TIDY there is nothing worse than a cluttered stand
    2) No eating or drinking during ‘Show time’ when customers are walking around – again nothing worse than seeing people lounging around on their stand eating or drinking
    3) Have give aways – everyone likes something for nothing and give them something for simply coming along!

  4. This just in: Get flies to do your tradeshow marketing for you!

    (the extra weight of the tag must cause them to tire quickly and therefore they do lots of landing to rest and don’t fly up into the ceiling – brilliant!)

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