Time is money. Here’s how you can save some at a trade show

A trade show can leave you with mixed emotions- you may be happy with the positive response you get, but all that exhaustion might make you wonder why didn’t you have more time on hands? Time is of the essence here, isn’t it? What if you could save some? Yes, that’s very much a possibility. Here’s how:

Play smart with your promotions: Think of promotional material that goes down well with multiple shows. The idea is to avoid repeating the process for every show and putting in extra time and effort. However, be sure to understand your target market and do thorough research on their age group, gender, occupation, and likes and dislikes, so as to create material that they actually want to see.

Qualify your leads while they are hot: More often than not, staffers at the booth send over random leads to those back at the office. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Qualifying your leads during the show will not only save your time but also ensure that the sales team gets only those leads that seem genuinely interested. Also, it’s advisable to get hold of a good lead collection system and a badge scanner. The former can help you collect the leads and measure their conversion rate, while the latter can come in handy if you need to keep a record of the attendees’ contact details. A good scanner would forfeit the need for writing down these details, especially for the attendees with no business cards.

Brief your staff before the show: On-site training is a big no-no. Whatever it is that you need to tell your staff – whether it’s reminding them of the basic rules like not to eat inside the booth or chew gum or imparting product-specific knowledge, do it 3-4 weeks before the show. This way you can focus on finishing touches and details when the show actually begins. If you want, you can also monitor the leads generated by each staff member so as to measure their efficiency and decide who all should be accompanying you to the next show.

Go for an easy-to-install design: A lightweight and portable display is like half the battle won. You’ll be able to set it up in no time, and would have some extra hours at your disposal for other important tasks. However, don’t forget the very purpose of your booth design – it is supposed to make you stand out, while clearly conveying your message and showcasing your products and offerings – make sure it does that. And if it’s not one of those self-build kinds, then do check with the designer if they offer storage, installation and dismantle services.

You may or may not have enough time to do everything that we have discussed; it’s better to rather choose those tasks that seem the most important – whatever you choose will save you some time for other things that would have gotten delayed otherwise. That’s a win-win!

 

In-booth Tactics That Could Give Your Exhibition Stand Design An Edge

What purpose does a well-designed exhibition stand serve for you? At best, it grabs the visitors’ attention, right? But so does every other stand out there. And more importantly, does it also keep the visitors engaged for long? Not really. So, is there a way that you could use your exhibition stand design to involve the visitors, rather than watching them walk away as soon as you are done with your elevator pitch? There is; in fact, there are a couple of in-booth tactics, which in conjunction with an effective design, could make your “stand” stand out.

Gamification

Kids love to play, agreed, but so do the adults; cash in on their love for games. Give them a reason to come and visit your exhibition booth – encourage participation through leaderboards, digital challenges and anything and everything that can add on to their experience – in the end, it’s all about experiential marketing. Let them have their moment – the moment of victory, where you announce the winner and give them a suitable reward. And you need not necessarily break the bank to incorporate gamification – there are a lot of budget-friendly options – right from quests and badges to loyalty programs. Just make sure that the results are fair and square and that they are made public, especially if you are using a leaderboard – put them up there for all to see.

Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words. Save your pitch for later; let the photos talk. Or better still, use them as a backdrop, something that could help you kick-off some engrossing discussions with the visitors. That being said, photo stations have been there for quite some time now; chances are that the neighboring booth has one. So how do you make yours more enticing? By leveraging the social media – photos make up for great shareable content and could be easily posted across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels – the more they are shared, the more people get to know about your brand – win-win!.

Technology

Is it feasible for you to transport all your products, even the large ones, to every trade show? Of course, not. So how do you promote these? Use technology to advantage – that should do – try and make Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) an integral part of your exhibition stand design – and worry not, you won’t be replacing the real-time experience – you would be engaging with the potential customers in a rather inventive way – something they’ll look forward to.

Product demos

Don’t be one of those ‘all talk, no action booths’; the visitors hate them. Grab every chance of showing off the key benefits of your products – give demos – let the visitors see for themselves how helpful your products are.

Gone are the days, when you just had to find one of the exhibition stand contractors, and book the biggest space – today, it’s more about identifying your target audience and thinking of some out-of-the-box ways to attract them. Once they are there, these tactics we have discussed could keep them engaged, and make them go through the decision-making process sooner than expected.

4 Ways To Make Your Booth Introvert-friendly

Trade shows are flocked by all kinds of people – all demographics – the young, the old, those who love to talk, those who don’t, anyone and everyone. But does everyone visit every booth? No, they don’t. Oddly enough, the exhibitors conveniently ignore them, unknowingly letting go of a large chunk of their audience. Take the introverts for example; when was the last time you had a booth that didn’t force them to hide behind the mask of an extrovert, or worse, make a detour and not come your way? Trade shows are flocked by all kinds of people – all demographics – the young, the old, those who love to talk, those who don’t, anyone and everyone. But does everyone visit every booth? No, they don’t. Oddly enough, the exhibitors conveniently ignore them, unknowingly letting go of a large chunk of their audience. Take the introverts for example; when was the last time you had a stand that didn’t force them to hide behind the mask of an extrovert, or worse, make a detour and not come your way?

They’ve had enough of your apathy already. It’s time you make amends. Start off by:

Giving them something to talk about

Introverts hate small talk; yes, they do enjoy a good conversation, but just don’t expect them to start one. They won’t. Not unless you provide them with a conversation starter. Think of ice-breaking activities – activities like quiz contests and games that encourage mingling – activities that ease them into the conversation. You could ask them to write on a piece of paper what they would like to talk about; as long as it takes the pressure out of networking, it’s worth it.

Respecting their choice of a smaller group

They dread large groups and have the tendency to become quiet if there are too many people around. Don’t let them go into the oblivion – think of activities where they can work in pairs or trios – the lesser the number of people, the more comfortable they would be. A roundtable discussion is also a good idea, but again, only if there aren’t too many people, not more than 10 to be precise, and if the introverts do get a chance to talk, get a moderator to oversee the discussion, because the introverts won’t interrupt – that’s just how they are.

Letting them engage at their own pace

While some people love to talk during the show, others save it for later – they are the introverts, people who would rather contribute to the conversation once the show is over. And if they were to interact there and then, they would think for a while first and then speak. Give them the time to. Instead of engaging them in real-time conversations, where they may have to walk up to a stranger in a busy conference room and talk, come up with a social media thread, where they can be a part of the conversation of their own accord. The key lies in encouraging them to participate, but setting them free!

Giving them enough time to relax Social dos can be quite a task, especially for your introvert guests – they must pause for a while – they can’t just go on and on. Don’t make them. If they feel the need to recharge, make sure there are places they can go to – they’ll come back with a bang.

Introverts are good at disguise – you may not be able to single out each of them, but you can always tweak your booth or the activities you have planned to suit their best interests, as a whole. They have a lot to offer, just give them a chance to.

The Ifs And Whys Of Global Exhibiting, And The Remedy!

Global exhibiting is enticing, no doubt; after all, there are more than 30,000 B2B trade shows worldwide every year, and you just can’t get that kind of exposure without setting foot on foreign soil, can you? Let’s say, you are in the US, which makes up for less than 25% of the global market, shouldn’t you then also focus on the emerging markets of South America, India, the Middle East and Russia? You should.

As a matter of fact, you must consider exhibiting internationally, if your business strategy allows you to. However, going global has its share of challenges, and could be quite confusing, especially if you are a first-timer.

The lingual differences: When exhibiting at a show in Abu Dhabi, make sure that the text on your business cards is in both English and Arabic, but if you wish to have the signage only in English, that’s completely acceptable, no worries. No matter where you are, it’s always recommended to have at least one person in your booth who is good at speaking the native language, and that’s because your booth would attract foreign visitors, and not all of them will speak English. It’s advisable to hire local staffers, especially those who speak multiple languages. The idea is to convey your message and not let lingual differences come in your way.

The cultural differences: Have you ever been to a trade show in Hong Kong, if not as an exhibitor, maybe as a visitor? Did you notice that hospitality is common out there, irrespective of the booth size? Well, the typical fare at any show in Hong Kong consists of snacks and beverages, which must be ordered through the venue’s catering services. So, keep that in mind when you decide to exhibit there. Similarly, in the US, while you would seldom see alcohol on the show floor and smoking is out of the question, there may be a common sign in Europe and some other foreign countries. The key lies in understanding these differences and embracing them – when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

The bigger differences: For starters, avoid getting your shipment delayed in customs; either look for a freight company that has experience in overseas trade show shipments or just go with the organizer’s preferred freight partner – the latter, of course, seems more like it. Secondly, you need to ensure that your products are in compliance with the country’s technical and safety standards. If you are not so sure, better hire a local consultant. Err on the side of caution here. Thirdly, get a hang of the difference in currencies so that you do not end up overspending. Make suitable arrangement for currency conversion. Last, but not the least, take a note of the time differences as these can hit you hard. It is important to plan your day accordingly.

Facing these challenges head-on is easier said than done; find a reliable exhibit partner, one who has proven experience in the international market. Just make sure they have a couple of references to provide and are not just making tall claims. Go global!

 

Was Your Last Trade Show Not That Successful? The Next One Could Be.

Trade shows are simply great – they let you create brand awareness, give you the perfect opportunity to showcase your products in front of your target audience, and provide you with a highly coveted platform, one that you are always on the lookout for, to meet existing and potential clients – phew! Enticing enough to reserve your space right away and sign on the dotted line, right? Is that what you did the last time – when someone just mentioned a trade show and you jumped on the bandwagon with little or no preparation? How did that turn out? Not good? Well, let bygones be bygones. Pull your socks up for the next one.

Nail down your motive: Why are you participating in the show in the first place? Are you looking for a launch pad for new products or concepts? Or are you rather interested in nurturing relationships? Or probably both? You can only prep up for the show when you have a clear answer. And when you do, reach out to your audience, find out if they are attending, and more importantly, make sure that the show is in sync with their requirements.

Know what you want to say: Blabbering is a big no-no. Once you have determined the goal of attending the show, decide on your strategy and message, or else you’d have a hard time achieving the goal. The message, of course, needs to be relevant to your goal.

a) What products would you be selling at the show?
b) Would you be highlighting some specific services or will you focus on all of them?
c) How is this projecting your brand? In what light?

Focus on space and design: Do you need a relatively large booth or a standard one would suffice? Figure that out. Space does matter, but if affordability is an issue, don’t fret; go for a smaller one, and invest in booth design – the idea is to establish meaningful connections and lay the groundwork for conversion. If your booth is delivering a clear, concise and memorable message, there’s no stopping you – make sure your designer does a good job – the passersby should get to know what your company is all about and want to come on over.

Choose the right location: While some exhibitors don’t like being placed next to show-stopping booths, because of obvious reason(s) – a distraction for potential customers, too much noise, undue comparison etc. – others categorically look for such spaces. They plan on cash in on the footfall that the flashier booths attract. Take your pick – whatever works for you.

Don’t take things for granted: First things first; don’t expect people to line up at your booth if you haven’t let them know that you’d be exhibiting at the show. Work on your pre-marketing tactics – emails, social media and your sales reps can spread the word without any difficulty. Secondly`, make sure that you and your staff are on the same page. If they have no clue what your goal is or what all offers you are floating exclusively for the show, they’ll be caught unaware, causing embarrassment to you and your company. They must also know how to man the booth, and create an inviting atmosphere – conduct a training session if required. Thirdly, generate curiosity through social media. People love to share, no doubt, but you need to give them something first – share pictures, give tips, answer their questions and do anything and everything to forge a connection. Last, but not the least, follow up, like always. If you succeed in building a relationship with the visitors during the show, nurturing it post the show is your responsibility – as simple as that!

And yes, follow a timeline – plan your budget 6-12 months before the show, and come up printed marketing materials at least 3 months in advance – just do things as and when they should be done!