The question is, how do you ensure you are a successful exhibitor? While you are in the planning process, ask yourself the following questions:
Are you taking advantage of all the tools show management has to offer? Check the event website for an exhibitor service center or portal to see if there is an online exhibitor profile you can fill-out, a show app you can download, or any networking tools you can use to find and contact the right attendees before the show.
Is your booth inviting? Encourage booth staff to be friendly and welcoming and try not to block any entryways with tables or signage. This can be particularly challenging if you have an island booth.
Are you promoting your presence at the event? Let everyone know you will be exhibiting at the event on your website, social media sites, and even your email signature. Take it one step further and send out communications to clients, prospects, and attendees with details on why they should visit your booth.
Have you made note of the deadlines for the early bird discount rates? Many events offer exhibitor services at a discounted rate if they are ordered at an earlier date. While this deadline may be earlier, it is always better to plan and order ahead. Plus, the money you save can be put toward giveaways or Chucks for your booth personnel.
Have you established a focused message and measurable event goals? Pick a key message to communicate before, during, and after the event. If you had a recent product release, mention it in your communications before the show, have information ready about the new product on the show floor, and follow up with your leads after the show. Set realistic goals to help you measure your success at the trade show. For example, if you hope to capture 50 leads at the event and bring back 65, you have met and exceeded your goal.
Last but not least, have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff. Things don’t always go the way they’re planned, but as long as you have carpet, I can guarantee attendees will want to be in your booth.
If you don’t want to turn away buyers, here is a list of what NOT to do when working in a booth.
Talking with other booth staff. You would be surprised by how many people will pass you by if you look occupied. Try not to talk to other booth staff or be on the phone. Actually, it is better that you turn off your cell phone and put it away. If you stay focused on the attendees and not your fellow booth staff members, more opportunities will come your way.
Speaking without listening. If you want an attendee to take your product seriously, then take them seriously. Listen to what their needs are before you speak. By making the conversation more about them and less about the product, the attendee is more likely to open up and share their challenges with you. Then you can explain how your product can solve their problem.
Sitting. We all get tired when working at a trade show, and sometimes we have the urge to sit down. When you’re sitting, you look lazy and less approachable. Be sure your entire team is standing up and ready to engage. To prevent foot pain, avoid wearing high heels or shoes that are too small. Instead, wear shoes that are flat or have a very low heel, with rubber soles, arch support, and flexible material that can breathe.
Eating. Eating food or chewing gum in your booth is a big no no. If you know Murphy’s Law, then you know that the moment you take a huge bite of that double decker hamburger with extra onions is the moment someone will walk up to you and ask you a question. Getting caught with food in your mouth and onion breath does not leave a good impression. Try to schedule breaks throughout the day where you can each take turns to leave the booth and get a bite to eat.
Poor posture & gestures. Although this is an awkward subject, it is important to address it. Because you are in public and people are always watching, try to be conscious of how you appear to others. Keep a smile on your face and look up and make eye contact with people instead of looking down and unavailable. Try not to slouch, pick, fidget, adjust yourself, frown, or roll your eyes. When speaking to someone, try to give them steady eye contact and avoid looking distracted. All of these can be embarrassing and make others feel awkward.
Leaving the booth empty. This not only looks bad for your company, but it is also a way to push buyers to visit your competitors. As a general rule of thumb, a 10 x 10 booth should always be staffed by a minimum of two people, with one additional person for every 100 square feet.
Talking bad about other exhibitors or attendees. When you are surrounded by people, anything you say or do is at risk of being heard by the wrong person. If you follow the golden rule, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, then you should be okay.
Overall. For a successful trade show, make sure you are as approachable and professional as possible. Remember that at any given moment you will be on center stage, and you only have about 20-30 seconds to attract a buyer and quickly determine if they are a good fit for you. Any impression you make will be a lasting impression, so make it a good one.