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What Not to Do at Trade Shows- My Experience

What Not to Do at Trade Shows- My Experience

What Not to Do at Trade Shows- My Experience

I recently visited the BC Home and Garden Show to say hi to a past client and meet with a friend. While it was an overall enjoyable experience and use of time, I still see exhibitors marketing their products and services the wrong way.

Let me give you a brief background…At the early stages of my sales career I really looked forward to trade shows. I could wear a tie and nice jacket and dazzle this captive audience. I mean, prospective clients were in one place and coming to me. I soon found out it was not that easy and most leads gathered at trade shows were a waste of time and went nowhere.

Not sure about you, but I really love/hate relationship with trade shows. I very rarely ‘work a booth’ at a trade show anymore. A couple of reasons really, I don’t have to and I would rather consult Companies on space design and getting the most return on investment (ROI) from their marketing dollars. (oh and I don’t like the long hours on my feet).

After doing the tour of the Vancouver Show, I still see allot of paying exhibitors doing trade shows the wrong way and letting potential revenue walk right by them. I spent time observing ‘pitches’ from salespeople, body language, space presentation, lighting and seeing who seemed enthusiastic when talking with potential customers. Here are some thoughts and experiential advice:

1. Have a open space/booth that is inviting. Stop having your sales people hiding behind a podium or table. The last show I designed had a loveseat, comfy carpeting, a coffee table with brochures and a TV looping the clients products. We had clients come right in, sit down and read our brochure. Then they stayed and asked questions.

2. As hard as it may be, staff your space with the right people. Properly trained, attentive, know the product and service inside out and are great at getting follow up appointments. Having your receptionist man a booth for a trade show is not fair to them or you. The purpose for being there is to get qualified leads and convert those leads to revenue to offset the cost of the marketing investment.

3.  Lose the phones. I don’t care if an important client is calling from a previous sale, no phones in the open. I can’t tell you how many faces were buried in their phones as potential sales walked right by. It’s rude and shows you don’t really care about the people you are actually there to care about. I actually saw one guy answering questions from a lady while texting and staring at his phone!

Overall, it was a greatly laid out and well attended. There should be no reason whatsoever that if you were a presenter, that you couldn’t get solid leads and sales from that show. That was a captive audience.

I could do a full day workshop on trade shows do’s and dont’s. (maybe I will) The takeaway is that in business, if you allocate a budget to trade shows, make sure your marketing investment is returned back to and you have succeeded in strengthening your brand and presence in the market.

Have a trade show coming up with your Company or Business? Let me spend a couple of hours with your team to make it the best one yet!

Kind Regards,
Larry J Clark

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