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Trade show pearl #1 was written on the fly in San Diego. Being in the exhibit hall and observing the activity at numerous booths reminded me of a number of basic pearls that are worth sharing. The most important pearl is at the end of the list.
One more thing – Previous posts concentrated on attracting prospects to your booth. The best in-booth execution in the world will be of no value if no one shows up at your booth in the first place. Let’s assume that you have succeeded in motivating some trade show attendees to come to your booth. Now your objective is to get them involved in learning about your product/services and converting them into a sale or a hot lead. These pearls will help to that end.
- Always sign up for a lead machine (badge scanner, etc.). And, get the premium service where they give you the database of your leads. Lately, they give you the database on a USB stick and/or they email it to you. Lead follow-up will be the subject of a later post. Paying for this service is worth it. Don’t think you will gather all the paper leads and transfer them to a spreadsheet when you get back to the office. It delays follow-up.
- Program the lead machine to allow you to specify product interest and interest level.
- Make sure your booth team practices using the badge scanner and specifying interests.
- If you have a smaller booth….10 feet or 20 feet in-line (3 meters or 6 meters for my international readers):
- If your products are large, place them front and center with space around them so visitors can easily approach the product.
- If products are small, consider having them on a table at the front of the booth so they are easily viewed.
- Keep in mind that human behavior is to avoid being trapped and to avoid being “sold”. Visitors will be reluctant to walk into an exhibit to see a product.
- Stand at the sides of the booth so you don’t block a doctor from approaching your product or literature.
- If an industry colleague(s) comes by to gossip, pull him/her off to the side so the two or three of you don’t block your products.
- If you have a larger booth…an island or peninsula booth:
- Keep the booth area open so it is easy and non-threatening for visitors to walk in or through.
- Avoid blocking entry by lining up products too close to each other along the aisle. I saw a major company do this in San Diego. It was impossible to get by the instruments and into the booth where there more instruments. A busy or shy doctor will just keep walking.
- Dress professionally. Suit and tie OR a shirt with company logo and nice slacks/dress. Shirts and blouses with company logos are a great way for a small company to look “large”, organized and professional. It will help give a prospective customer confidence in doing business with you. And, they are not expensive. Furthermore, as you walk around the exhibit hall, you are a walking advertisement for your company. If you opt for suits and ties, then have name badges made with your company logo on them. This helps a prospect identify someone to talk to about your products or services. The little things count here. Shine your shoes! Dirty and scuffed shoes will elicit the thought…”If this is how a company representative takes care of himself, then how will they take care of me.”
- Keep your exhibit neat and as uncluttered as possible. Straighten out your stacks of literature regularly. Empty trash bins when they are half full.
- Have something unique and inexpensive as a give away. In the US, with Advamed guidelines and PhrmaCode guidelines you must be careful what you give away. Try something unique to the city or town you are from. For example, if you are from Buffalo, give away sponge candy. It is unique to Buffalo (and it is really really good!!). It may be a good icebreaker to a conversation.
- Your exhibit signage should be easy to read at a distance and at eye level.
- Companies with small booths frequently use roll-up banners. They cram as much information on the banner as they can. Then when they set it up in their booth….along with the product, a table, a chair, etc…..you can’t see half of the banner and half of the information. Keep the words on your banner to a minimum. Make sure they are benefit oriented. Very Important, only have your product message and picture on the upper half of the roll-up banner.
- Larger exhibits must be sure their signage is clear and easy to read as well. Benefits and product name in large print. Details (clinical results, testimonials, etc) in small print. The benefit statements will attract people to the exhibit where they can learn more of the details.
- Special pricing sheets – have these printed prior to the show and hand them out to your booth team. Explain the pricing and any other leeway your team has on pricing so they are not always holding up a sale while they look for you for approval.
- Have a booth kit – extra pens, scissors, stapler, small first aid kit, note pads, envelopes, paper clips, tape, rubber bands, multi-tool, etc.
10. Come to the exhibit hall early the first day of the tradeshow and walk the floor. Visit your competitor exhibits. It is possible they will not be there yet. You can observe any special promotions they have in their exhibit signage or in brochures.
11. Have plenty of business cards.
12. MOST IMPORTANT PEARL – Have a pre-show booth meeting with your team. It doesn’t matter if there are 3 of you on the team or 20 of you. During this meeting, review your goals, the lead machine, location of items in the booth (literature, booth kit, order forms, etc.), timing of breaks when doctors may flood the exhibit hall, schedules of executives, information about competition, review any special pricing you are offering, basic rules about not blocking entry to the booth (pearl #4.d. ), etc.
Good Luck and many I hope you get Good Leads and Sales at your Spring and early Summer trade shows!
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