More trade show tips:
10) Don’t get tied up. We enjoyed mixing with other exhibitors, sharing ideas and information, and just socializing. But we were careful to be respectful of their space, and not to tie them up and hinder them from making a sale or a connection. Most were likewise considerate. But there were some people at the show who wore ‘Buyer’, ‘Media’, ‘Representative’ or ‘Guest’ badges who were actually there trying to sell something to the exhibitors. Know how to recognize these individuals, quickly accept their information, and move them along. Don’t waste YOUR time (you are paying to be there!) by letting them tie you up with their sales pitch. You can always let them pitch to you via email or phone after the show.
11) Protect your trade show help. Just like #10 above, don’t let your help get tied up with “non-leads”. Explain who you want them to focus on (for example, which buyers and which media to concentrate efforts upon), and who you want to keep out of the booth. Our trade show talent this year were all beautiful young ladies, tastefully dressed, with classy style. They were polite and pleasant, and they naturally caught the eyes of several young (and even not-so-young) men. It is important when a young male exhibitor or representative shows a little too much interest or gabs too long to be able to help your talent by stepping in to the conversation. If they are truly interested in your product, they won’t be offended. Don’t be afraid to come over and talk about the product or even simply ask them to move along. It may even help to establish a signal from them or to them to communicate when to politely ‘break’ and move on.
12) The problem with estimates…Last year we brought a couple thousand brochures, and several hundred samples–and wound up carting most of them back home with us, with significant shipping charges. Based on last year’s experience, we brought several hundred samples, and a few hundred flyers. Our booth help was so good at drag-netting people in and stimulating interest that we were out of samples in 1.5 days out of a 3.5 day show. We went through all our flyers, and had to resort to stapling a business card to a product data sheet, as well as asking exhibitors, reps, and media to email us to request a sample. With major retailers and ‘elite interests’ we gave them actual packaged product rather than samples.
13) Don’t be afraid! You are there to make connections and sell your product. You paid a lot and worked hard to make it happen. Don’t just watch your “dream clients” walk by. Last year we watched (initially in horror) to one of our booth-neighbors run down the aisle and just about tackle a buyer as she turned the corner. That is definitely against the ‘rules of decorum’ for the trade show, and is looked down upon by exhibitors. BUT we also watched that ‘rule breaker’ successfully land that buyer, who happened to be NORDSTROMS! You have to take a chance and sometimes bend the rules to make the score. If you don’t take the chance you definitely don’t get the contract. If you do take the chance the worst thing to happen is you don’t get the contract…hmmm, which odds would you rather?
14) Strategize and scout…I mentioned earlier the idea of setting your goals and naming your target clients. It also helps to tell your booth-neighbors (assuming you have a good relationship with them) who you want to ‘land’. They will help you, and you can help them to keep a heads up for those buyers of interest. We had other booths direct our ‘favorites’ over to our booth, and we did likewise for them for their favorites. When our booth talent went on breaks for lunch or coffee, we told them to keep their eyes peeled on badges, and to identify anyone who was a target client so we could know what to look for as they approached the booth. We also did some ‘scouting’ ourselves.
15) Be ready for the chance encounter. You never know who you might run into, when and where. Always have a business card and sample (if your product is small enough) or some form of literature readily available. Just being friendly and talkative while you are getting lunch, or are on break, or at the hotel, or on the metro can sometimes lead to someone to your booth.
16) Be yourself. You don’t always have to be ‘on the product pitch’. On several occasions we have unassumingly encountered some major entities ‘off the carpet’, and without badges. We had our youngest child with us, so we had lots of conversations with people about our children, and a few times later encountered the same people to discover they were big players. They remembered us for the real people we were, and because of that their interest in the product was kindled.
Note: Paris, Las Vegas used courtesy of pdphoto.org