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.