Want to Have a Successful Trade Show Booth?

Volume 13 Issue 4 - Fuel 4 Thought - Want to Have a Successful Trade Show Booth

I have witnessed some very successful trade show booths but have also seen some unsuccessful ones too.  Certainly, there are differences between them, so let’s discuss what those are so you can be better prepared for your next trade show booth.

Recently, I went to a trade show and the show manager admitted, “We should give a class on how to be successful at a trade show.” His statement was brow-raising, but I followed with, “Why?”  He had a person take a booth that did nothing to attract people to his booth but then complained it was useless to go. So, being the fixer that I am, I took it upon myself to go by that booth.

Yes, he had two people in that booth. That’s a good sign. So, take 1st base.  Both had sunglasses on while they were indoors, and they weren’t wearing any company signage on their shirts.  It’s a foul ball, and they’ve committed Strike 1. They sat behind their table without looking people in the face after approaching their booth.  They had meniscal handouts.  Strike 2.  The lady was talking on her cellphone and wasn’t wearing comfortable shoes.  High heels look great in certain settings, but at trade shows? Always wear the most comfortable shoes.  Doesn’t matter if they’re tennis shoes, because you are on your feet constantly at a trade show.   To make matters worse, this booth didn’t speak to me first.  I had to start the conversation myself.  Strike 3 and you’re out!  It’s so hard to come back from a strike out at a trade show.  You’ve got to WOW each person you see after that.

Ask yourself these questions.  What process does your company use to attract trade show attendees to your booth? What’s your lead in question to have conversation with them?  What’s your final comment when they’re leaving your booth?

Now back to that trade show booth.  This ill-prepared guy in the booth started in on his memorized sales pitch without asking me one question.  He never took off his sunglasses.  He sat there while I was standing and wasn’t looking up.  I know because I was looking down at him.  At that moment, the lady got off her phone and said, “What state are you from?”  Oh, a question.  There weren’t any handouts to give me and certainly not any trade show giveaways, like pens or pads.  They did not tie into the theme of the trade show either.  So, this leads me to believe that they had no clue as to their business’ theme.  They weren’t prepared.

I wanted to tell these two, clueless people to “get out into the hallway in front of your table.”  Meet the attendee up front.  Listen intently to them first and see what your firm has that could help them. When they say what their problem is, don’t stop them in the middle of their sentence.  Listen, be approachable but be a diagnostician.

One trade show had a treasure hunt theme.  I came dressed as Captain Hook.  I have given out candy bars and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups just to tie into the theme created by the show.  Be prepared to answer questions and give helpful tips to anyone that comes by the booth.

At another trade show, a booth mailed out 4 thousand keys ahead of time.  Attendees were told to come by the booth to see if their key unlocked the treasure chest of rewards.  Then, at another one, people came to try their luck at winning their giveaway by using any four-digit code.  The line was 5 to 10 minutes long throughout the day because everyone hoped their combination would work.  They used birthdates and anniversary dates continuously.  They would try 3 or 4 times, hoping it would work.  By the time they finished, we had time to talk to them about sales training back at their dealership.  The giveaway was unlocked at the end of the show in front of 700 people. The opening code was 7654.

Other helpful tips:  Dress right, smile and act like you are having fun.  Be there early each morning and be the last to leave at night.  Give away food or drinks, like at the Florida Tow Show.  That booth was always packed.

As I stated before, always have two people in your booth.  Here’s why.  When I first started with Uniroyal, my wife and I worked at the booth together.  I have had neighbors help me too when she couldn’t help.  Thank God, my neighbor wore my size, because I already had a shirt for him to wear.  He would make small talk until I could jump into the conversation and introduce myself as the Uniroyal rep.   I rented a tiger costume and always brought it to the trade show.  I used it in my booth to help explain the “Tiger Paw” Tires promotion.  People loved it.

Today, I’m the Tow Doctor.  I wear my doctor outfit, sign books, and pass out bookmarks.  But when you come by to say hi, I too have a smile on my face and am always glad to see you.  When they leave my booth, I say, “It is better to be seen than to be viewed.”  Let that sink in a little.  It’s catchy, but true.

Come by the Tow Professional booth anytime, at any show, whether in Florida, North Carolina, or Midwest Tow Show. Darian Weaver the Publisher, and CEO of the Podcast will be happy to give you a free copy of the most recent magazine published by Tow Professional magazine.  You will hear us talk about this great industry because we are passionate about it.

See you at the next Tow Show, and I will see you on our next podcast.

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