3 Keys for your next Trade Show

A trade show is without doubt a great place to showcase your business and the latest innovations you are bringing to the market.

If you are new to trade shows or you have been doing them for years, there are some important basics that it’s very easy to forget, not know or, even worse, ignore. One of those basics is "The human touch", the third key in this post.

Before the event: Deciding and preparing

Before exhibiting in a trade show, you should visit that show first. You will see the answer to questions like:

  • Is this a show where business actually takes place?
  • Is this the right place to showcase your business?
  • Are your potential clients actually visiting this show?
  • What is the atmosphere like? Is there buzz, energy and excitement?

At the show

You need to be very clear about how you want to present yourself and your Company. This goes hand in hand with the marketing strategy:

  • Where do you want your stand? Near the entrance? Well away from competitors or close to them?
  • Do you prefer a stand provided by the organiser or do you want an empty space for your own fixtures and fittings? If you go for the former, don’t forget to think about how you will decorate the stand so it stands out from the crowd.
  • Use the right professionals for the services you will need: lighting, graphic design, printers…

The human touch: How to make connections with potential clients

85% of success of trade show depends on the people on the stand. Not the stand, not your products nor your services.

You need to feel confident that they will attract and win over visitors. Be sure you have the right people on the stand. Give them training or preparation sessions.

They have to be able connect with other people very, very quickly. Some people are naturally good at it, others you can teach. However, some people can’t or won’t connect. Don't even think about asking them to help on your stand.

Connections begin with a conversation, so stand staff need to know how to start a conversation with a complete stranger. Said with a smile, these phrases work:

  • “Hi, there. What are you looking for at the show?”
  • “Hello. What do you like on our stand?”
  • “Good afternoon. Where are you from?”

Even with a smile, this phrase does not work: “Can I help you?”

Connect with people only when they are less than 2 metres away. Make eye contact with them before you say your engaging statement or ask your opening question. If the person is really close, eye contact is not necessary as they will look at you when they hear your voice.

Show that you are available by your positioning and posture, establish eye contact with passing visitors. If you stand with a relaxed and open posture, you will look welcoming. If you stand with your back to the aisle or your arms crossed and your head down, speaking on your phone, chatting with colleagues, sitting down to read the newspaper… you are saying “Leave me alone!”

Also, remember that you need to keep information about the prospects you just met in order to follow up. Although everybody knows this, few people consistently follow up.

You can make a first step right on your stand with your smartphone by scanning the QR code on a visitor’s badge with iCapture (http://www.icapture.com) and send them a personalised, prepared email. Or just scan their business card with Camcard  (www.camcard.com)

When the show is over, follow up those prospects and think about how you can make your next trade show presence even better!

How about preparing your team for its next trade show? Send me an email if you would like to speak.