Well, 2014 is finally here!
When I first saw the listing of this year’s main event, it seemed like it would be eons before April would arrive especially after what seemed like the longest winter. Chances are, by the time you are reading this, your booth may already be set up, and you may have already greeted many clients and potential clients so a few of these suggestions may be a bit late.
These types of shows come at a large cost to exhibit. Not only do you have the expense involved with the cost of the booth space, carpet, tables, chairs, electrical, display, marketing material, giveaways and draw prizes, there is also accommodations, meals AND most importantly your time. Being properly prepared for any truck show is key to ensure you and your company receive the ROI needed to make this a worthwhile investment.
To increase your chance of success, hopefully you let your clients and prospects know where they could find you through social media, emails and your advertising. Some companies do well by offering incentives for customers and clients to stop at their booth.
What about your booth space…do you have something interesting happening to attract more people to stop by? Draw prizes and giveaways are a great way to get people to stop. Having candy or a healthy snack at your booth will also draw extra people your way.
So now that you have them there, your next step is to get them talking. Do you have an elevator speech (30 seconds or less) to get them to ask more questions about your product or service? Although it’s good to have brochures to hand out, I’ve always wondered how many people actually take the time to read any of the material they get.
A few DO’s and DON’TS to consider
Here’s a few do’s…and don’ts of “successfully” working a trade show booth.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Trust a trade show is not the place to break in a brand new pair of shoes. With the amount of time you spend on your feet, you deserve to be as comfortable as possible.
- Have a schedule for every staff person- including lunch breaks. Don’t overbook your booth or have it understaffed.
- Make sure everyone there wants to be there or at least looks like they want to be. I’ve worked with people before where all they do is complain about being there. Even if they are not verbal about their frustrations, their body language says a lot.
- Keep plenty of breath mints – there is nothing worse than talking to someone that just finished a smelly meal or reeks of alcohol from the night before.
- Have a clever giveaway to help attract potential clients to your booth.
- Have a bowl of candies or mints on your table. You never know, what will get a prospect to stop and chat for a minute. When he/she is there it’s up to you to get their attention.
- Have plenty of business cards on hand. Forgetting your cards could mean the difference between making a sale going home empty handed.
- Make sure your booth remains clean and free of clutter. Keep the boxes, jackets and laptop bags out of sight under the table.
- Network with other exhibitors, but don’t take too much of their time. You are both there to talk to prospects and clients.
- If you have a draw, make it a legit draw by having someone else draw the winning ticket.
- Sit at your booth. It’s proven when you are sitting down you are less approachable.
- Eat or drink at your booth. There is nothing worse than watching someone chomp down on a burger and fries as potential client walks by. Many times they will just keep on walking
- Party too hard the night before. I know… it’s an opportunity to network with clients, prospects and suppliers. If you are planning on getting out be sure to make it an early night. It’s not any fun working a show for 8-10 hours when you are hung over and reeking of booze from the night before.
- Chew gum… sometimes, you can get a little carried away with your chomping and it looks unprofessional.
- Provide the prospect with a benefit dump (a complete list of services you offer). Try developing a short FAB (Feature, Advantage, Benefit)
- Spend too much time talking to your co-workers and certainly don’t air your grievances at the booth. You are there to attract customers and conversations can spread through a show quickly
- Shut down the booth early. It sends the wrong message to prospect and clients and it looks unprofessional. Even if the traffic is slow have at least one person stay until the show closes.
- Tear down the booth until the show is over (same reasons as 7).
- Wait until you are back at the office to select your draw winner. Try doing it at a specific time (at the end of the show) and invite others back.
- Leave the booth for a break without taking your cell phone. If a client or prospect comes by, you should be easily reached.
Don’t just be there putting in your time… You need to bring your ‘A-game’ to fully realize the investment that you and your company have made.
Follow up is any trade show. If you are collecting cards from prospects make sure you jot a few details of your conversation on the back of the card. Have a “hot sheet” to record the names, numbers and notes for leads that have the most potential. If you’ve held a draw to collect leads, make sure you do it while your conversation is fresh in their mind. If you have collected emails, send them a quick follow up to thank them for dropping by. You may even want to mention who the winner(s) were to legitimize that you actually gave the prize away that you advertised.
Make sure you have a follow up conversation with your team. Ask them to provide their feedback. Go over what worked well and what could be better at the next show. It’s sometimes difficult to instantly measure the true value of the show and you may not see the true ROI right away. Earlier this week, we signed up a very large corporate client that we originally connected with 2 years ago and kept the relationship going.
Oh, and one more thing. Have fun… it certainly make the time pass a lot quicker!
About the Author
Glenn Caldwell is the Vice-President of Sales for NAL Insurance Inc. of London ON. For over 25 years, Glenn has worked closely with many fleets across the country to ensure their Owner/Operators have the protection they need to Keep Rollin’.
You can reach him (800) 265 1657-3350 firstname.lastname@example.org www.nalinsurance.com www.healthytrucker.com.