Trade Show Pearls 2 through 12

Reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

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.

  1. 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.
    1. Program the lead machine to allow you to specify product interest and interest level.
    2. Make sure your booth team practices using the badge scanner and specifying interests.
  2. If you have a smaller booth….10 feet or 20 feet in-line (3 meters or 6 meters for my international readers):
    1. If your products are large, place them front and center with space around them so visitors can easily approach the product.
    2. If products are small, consider having them on a table at the front of the booth so they are easily viewed.
    3. 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.
    4. Stand at the sides of the booth so you don’t block a doctor from approaching your product or literature.
    5. 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.
  3. If you have a larger booth…an island or peninsula booth:
    1. Keep the booth area open so it is easy and non-threatening for visitors to walk in or through.
    2. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. Keep your exhibit neat and as uncluttered as possible.  Straighten out your stacks of literature regularly.  Empty trash bins when they are half full.
  6. 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.
  7. Your exhibit signage should be easy to read at a distance and at eye level.
    1. 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… 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.
    2. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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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Trade show pearl #1

Reading time: 2 – 3 minutes

Hello everyone.  I apologize for being somewhat quiet the past 2 weeks.  I returned from a trip to Europe and immediately moved my household from Buffalo to Queens (NYC).  Needless to say…a very hectic couple weeks.  And, to top it off, I turned around and headed to the ASCRS in San Diego.

Today, while having a meeting at one of the big round tables you frequently find at the back of an exhibit hall near the food concession, I saw something that I thought was very smart.  A woman from one of the exhibiting companies was going from round table to round table and tossing several reprints of an article related to her products onto the table.  Attached to the reprint was a business card with her company’s exhibit number.

I thought this was a very smart and economical move.  Some may say it seems unprofessional.  Others may think that this exhibitor will get in trouble with the organization that runs the congress.  But think about it.  She only tossed a few reprints on each table.  In the course of a lunch time frame about 30 doctors will sit at that table.  Some will pick up these reprints.  Typically a good reprint about a product is interesting to read.  So, the likelihood of her company getting in trouble is minimal.  And, if one or two is left on the table, it could appear that a doctor had picked up the reprint at their booth, read it during lunch and left it behind.  This is a low risk promotional move.

At a large congress like the ASCRS, there may be 20 such tables spread across the back of the hall.  Over the course of a day, 700 or more doctors or allied professionals may sit at those tables.  No doubt, she was regularly going back to the tables are putting more reprints out as the original ones disappeared. The exposure is terrific.

To top it off, as she left reprints on each table with a smile on her face, she said something nice to at least one person or group of persons at the table.  It was disarming and pleasant.  If anything a nice impression that may encourage someone to look at what she left on the table.

So, try this trade show pearl at the next congress you attend.  Try to use a reprint about your product or a white paper.  It is an inexpensive way to move a little more traffic to your exhibit.

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Tweet your way to Trade Show success!! Post #5

Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes

This is the fifth post in a series on getting the most out of your trade show participation (trade show ROI).  If you want to subscribe to my blog, you can chose either an RSS feed or an email subscription.  Also, comments and input are appreciated!!

If you would have asked me for advice on the business applications of Twitter®, YouTube® and Facebook® a year ago, I would have told you that they were not significant elements of a marketing plan for a medical device company.  I WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY VERY WRONG!!!  In the past year I have put a lot of time and expense into the study of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.  I will admit that I am new to the subject.  However, I am way ahead of most of my peers in medical device marketing…..and that is scary.  Few small to medium sized medical device companies have a professional Social Media Manager.

In this post, I do not have time to go into a full-blown discussion of Twitter.   I WILL cover the potential use of Twitter as a promotional and service tool related to trade shows.  This short post should get you considering adding Twitter as a mainstream strategic and tactical effort.

Why use Twitter to drive trade show activity at your exhibit? For two BIG reasons:

First, the new generation of doctors and their staff are social media users.  Many have Twitter on their phone.  So, when they are on their way to the trade show or on the show floor….they may be receiving Tweets.  If you have built up a Twitter following for your company, Tweets are a great way to get news out to a lot of people.  With these Tweets you can remind your followers that there is a special trade show discount for Twitter followers.  You can inform them of activities at your exhibit….like an education presentation by a Key Opinion Leader.  You can remind them to come see a product that is being launched.

Here is a live example going on right now in Atlanta, Georgia at SECO.  SECO is one of the best national optometric trade shows of the year.  Haag-Streit USA, an upper tier manufacturer of exam lane equipment and high tech ophthalmic diagnostics is using Twitter regularly during the show.  They are enticing their followers to come to the booth with these tweets:

  • “LENSTAR is getting a lot of buzz here at #SECO11 booth 341. Come check out the buzz surrounding the optical biometer.”
  • “Upgrade your BQ 900 and BM 900 Slit Lamps to LED. Super image quality that lasts a lifetime. #SECO11 booth 341.”
  • “CE class on visual field interpretation at 11 a.m. #SECO11, led by Drs, John Warren and Anthony Litwak.”

This is excellent use of Twitter.

Now, here is the second and very powerful reason to use Twitter during tradeshows….Exponential Expansion of Your Tweets.  If your Twitter follower likes your Tweet and thinks his followers should see it, he/she can ReTweet(or forward) your Tweet to their followers.  Suddenly, another hundred or two hundred people see YOUR original Tweet!!  What if 10 of your followers ReTweet to their followers?!?!?  Do you get it?  And, that is not all!  (You can tell I am excited about this because I am using a lot of exclamation points!!)  If, one or more of your followers responds to your Tweet…..all of their followers will see the response in the Mentions component of their Twitter account!!

Imagine having just a few of your followers spreading the word for you at a tradeshow.  In the near future, I will be looking for metrics on this subject.

I did a quick look at Haag-Streit’s competitors – Carl Zeiss Meditech, Marco, Topcon and Reichert.  None use Twitter.  As far as I am concerned, Haag-Streit has a competitive advantage.  An inexpensive competitive advantage.

NOTE!  As you explore Twitter, you will discover that most companies do NOT use it as a promotional tool.  Twitter is used to create a conversation with your customers, prospects and followers.  Studies and surveys have shown that Twitter users do not want to be hammered with promotions and advertising.  They want helpful information.  That being said, during trade shows you will be pushing into the promotional.  However, at this time, your followers may appreciate being reminded about a price discount promotion.  They will definitely want to know about product launches, product upgrades and educational opportunities.

BEWARE! As a medical device company, you have to control what you say on Twitter.  You should have some guidelines to be sure that your Tweets are compliant with regulatory issues.  This is pretty easy to do.

There is a lot more to the power of Twitter than I have revealed here.  Go sign up for a Twitter account of your own… is free.  Find some companies to follow.  Then study the business section of the site.  Look at the case studies about Jet Blue and Best Buy.  It is convincing.


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