Here are a few pointers from marketing consultant Bob Bly on making trade shows pay:
Nothing else attracts people to your booth like action
At Koch Engineering, we sold “internals” – devices that went into the innards of chemical plants, where they helped liquids react, Bly says. So, he made a working model of a chemical plant out of transparent Plexiglas, and ran water through it so visitors could see the liquid drip, bubble, and mist.
“It was a fantastic attention-getter,” he says … it gave a live demonstration of how our products worked, which was exactly what our audience, chemical engineers, came to see (but rarely got to see at other booths in the show, which featured mostly enlarged color photos of chemical plants and exhibitor products).”
ROI – return on investment – is critical
Most companies spend thousands of dollars at trade shows without measuring ROI to see if it’s worthwhile. The only reason you should be at a show is that you think the sales you will make – at the show if they permit it or as the result of follow-ups to show leads afterward – will more than pay back the cost of exhibiting (including booth space, travel and lodging, exhibit design, and production.)
The No. 1 reason prospects come to industry trade shows is to see new products
Make sure your newest products (or at least the new upgrades and versions of old products) take center stage in your display. Stress the word “new.”
Anything you can do to liven up your exhibit will draw a crowd
To promote a new weapons system for a tank code-named “The Gunfighter,” for example, Westinghouse hired a real-life “gunfighter” – a professional cowboy whose specialty was quick-draw shooting – as booth entertainment. As the gunfighter demonstrated how to rapidly pull a gun from its holster and accurately hit the target, he talked about how the Westinghouse weapons systems could do the same thing for a tank.
Do not pounce
When someone approaches your booth, give him space and air. Let him look around a bit. Once he is comfortably inside, don’t say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” or “Do you have any questions?” Instead, say, “What brings you to the show today?” His answer will help you direct the conversation.
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