Posts tagged: tradeshow

Avoid the Tradeshow Sinkhole

I’ve seen a lot of money quickly flushed away in tradeshows over the years. It’s easy to do… perhaps too easy.

A lot of us have grand visions when we decide that a tradeshow is a good way to show your product or gather contact information (sales leads) for follow-up. We decide that a booth, with a couple of fancy signs or banners, two tables tables and some demonstration products will attract enough people so that the fees we pay to be at the show end up being offset by the sales we make from participating in the show.

The problem is that very often we fall victim to “Great Idea — Bad Execution”. In other words, if we totaled up the cost of doing the tradeshow and the profit we make from it we discover, flat out, that it was a lousy investment.

When I work with a client who feels that a tradeshow is exactly what they need, I offer them the following rules to consider:

Rule 1: Know Why Are We Here

Decide why you are going to spend money participating in the show. Set up very specific goals and understand what information you are going to gather. Make sure you can measure these goals. Goals need to be specific like “gather 300 names and addresses of qualified persons who we can call sometime after the show to demonstrate our product”.

Rule 2: Know Who You Are Talking To

Everything you do at a tradeshow requires a deep understanding of who is attending, what their needs are and what “jargon” they are speaking. Figure this out and shape your message (your handouts, your demonstrations and your booth signs) so that you are speaking directly to the people who are at the show.

Rule 3: You Have Two Seconds to Tell People What You Do

It goes like this… People who are walking down the aisle will spend about two seconds trying to figure out what you do and if it has any benefit for them. If they can’t figure this out in two seconds, they will turn and walk away. Next time you are at a show, walk around the floor and give the “two second test” to a couple of other participants. To be able to communicate what you do and it’s benefits requires your signs and every part of your display to be clear, concise and short.

Rule 4: Don’t Ever Fence Them In

Sometimes, your instinct says you should set up your tables at the front of the booth, near the aisle. Here’s my advice — ignore your instinct. It is a well proven fact that people don’t come around a table or something that is blocking their exit because they don’t like the anticipation of being trapped.

Make the booth space (as small as it is going to be), open, inviting and comfortable. People have to feel that they are there of their own choice and can leave anytime they want to.

Rule 5: You Are Not A Prospect For Your Product or Service

All the sinage, handouts, text, images etc that you are going to use need to link to how your audience sees the world. For every element of your booth, ask yourself:

  • does it speak their language in a way that they understand
  • is it visually appealing to them. Do these items relate to the people, images and colors that are part of your booth.

Test your assumptions about what you are saying, giving away or showing with someone who might attend the show. Remember, what you say about your product is most likely shaped by things that you know about it and how you might use it. The problem is that you are not the one who is attending the show!

For certain markets, companies and products, trade shows are an ideal, efficient way of getting your name out into the world, gathering prospects and most importantly weeding out those who are not interested in what you are doing or saying.

Just remember to look at tradeshows exactly like you would any other advertising venture by asking yourself one simple question. “Is the money I spend, an investment that will return me a profit”.