10/19/2011 12:00 AM
I spent six plus long days recently setting up and then working a trade show exhibit. Was the show a success? Depends who you ask. I survived standing on carpeted cement for 6 days, so by that measure my survival was a success. But how about the exhibitors? Did they walk away with results that made the collective $12,000,000 spent by the exhibiting companies worthwhile? Do they even know?
I watched as exhibitor after exhibitor sat comfortably in their trade show booths as I walked by. They sent text messages on their phones, ate popcorn, checked their email on laptops, talked to their fellow booth staffers (a.k.a. “prisoners in the booth”)…everything but approach me to find out if I was a good prospect.
Was this every exhibit staff member? No. A few had terrific promotions featuring celebrity signings, interactive games and activities all driven by focused, aggressive booth staff ready to engage. But far too many missed the chance to at least qualify me (and every other passerby) to see if we could possibly be their next big client. Why such a contrast? Somebody in the successful exhibiting companies was paying attention and understood why they were there and how to be successful. The remaining companies ascribed to the maxim from one of the great philosophers of our time, Woody Allen, who said “80% of life is just showing up.” This was borne out by those who missed the opportunity to do something purposeful in their trade show display.
The busy, productive, successful exhibitors understood that the trade show started with an effective pre-show “teaser” to get the attendee to seek them out. If they failed to use a good pre-show promotion they at least had staff that understood the objectives of trade show ROI and wanted to be there. These booth staff members were not afraid of strangers and appeared excited about the story they had to tell. They were well prepared with tools like a trade show lead form. And in the absence of a good promotion and/or terrific staff, some companies still drew a crowd with an at-show promo that created some buzz. When all else fails deliver a memorable experience that everyone in the room wants to be part of and you’ll walk away with results worth paying for.
Maybe next year…
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