Does Your Trade Show Approach Suck?

Does Your Trade Show Approach Suck?

written by Derek Weber

As we are kicking into full summer mode (I know here in St Louis, the heat and humidity are off the charts) it is time to start planning for something as much a part of the Fall as the leaves turning beautiful shades of orange, yellow, and red, the Cardinals making the playoffs and the Cub fans saying “wait ’til next year”…tradeshows.

We have all been to, and most of us have probably even had a booth at a tradeshow at some point in our lives…and if you haven’t, well, I guess you’ve got something to look forward to.  I have personally attended or presented at dozens and dozens of tradeshows and something strange occurred to me within the last year or two…how incredibly boring and predictable tradeshow presenters are.

I have noticed that most booths fall into 5 different categories:

1) The Clergy: They put some cheap give-away product (not even a promotional product…if you are not sure of the difference, read this), stand behind the table, and pray somebody will come up and start talking. ‘Hi would you like to register for our grand prize?  You could win a life time supply of soap’ or something like that.  On occasion they may even catch eye contact with someone walking by, smile, and say hello…and then say goodbye as they walk on by…after the throw the free give-away in with the their big bag of goodies the same way they did the previous 43 booths.

2) The Spender. They have the huge corner or center booth with 50” plasmas scattered around like they are buy-one-get-one-free posters from Wal-Mart.  They cram as much expensive looking tradeshow paraphernalia as physically possible.  The only thing they are missing is a pair of giant spotlights panning across the sky.  These types of booths are a competition of who can throw the most money at a tradeshow appearance.  Although, it does show they put a little bit of time and A LOT of money in to this technological masterpiece, all that usually happens is that people stare at all the activity going on and say ‘hey, that’s pretty cool’ and then keep on walking.

3) The Joker. You will only see one or two of these per tradeshow.  They are the people that buck the regular, stiff, boring booths like The Clergys and The Spender and try to incorporate some sort of interactive game.  It could be a prize wheel or cornhole or some other crazy game that generates some fun energy and draws some attention.  Although I definitely respect their effort because they do get more interactive time with the prospect, they still fall a little short because the game usually has no relevance what so ever to the prospect, company, or the product/service they provide.  Good, but not great.

4) The Canvaser. We have all seen these people, and we generally try to steer as far clear of them as possible.  These are the booths that don’t care about anything else besides getting as many people as possible to sign up.  Not how many qualified leads, just how many names.  You see them out in the middle of the aisle with the clipboard, stalking some pour soul that mistakenly came too close to the lion’s den.  They will follow this person along two or three booths down the aisle throwing every line in the book at them, stopping just short of begging them to sign up…I’ve actually had one guy tell me straight up after I told him I was interested 3 times, “C’mon man, just sign up get the free trial and cancel it after 30 days.  I get paid by how many people I get to sign up and I could really use the money.”  Is that how you want your company represented?

5) The Dealer. A slight variation of The Canvaser, they don’t even really talk to anyone, they are just handing out as much literature to as many people as they can, as fast as humanly possible.  They are so efficient at handing out brochures and business cards that they must be a dealer at a local casino during the evenings or in a previous life.  They are an impressive sight to see running back and forth across the aisle so they don’t miss anyone.

There are elements of each of these types of booths that when used in the right combination with the right strategy are extremely effective.  Going into a tradeshow, most presenters have the same overall goals:

  • Drive traffic to their booth
  • Engage them in conversation to see if they are a prospect
  • Get their contact information
  • Drive them to their website
  • Get an appointment

Can you see how each one of those 5 people can accomplish one or two of these goals, but not all of them?

That’s where our expertise comes in.  We are able to bridge the gaps among different approaches to incorporate them all into one comprehensive strategy, and make it fun for your prospects.  Check out the latest strategic plan we put together for one of our clients, Yo-Fi Wellness (click “More” then “Auto-Play”.  Can you see how we bring several elements together in order to convey their brand and their culture to potential prospects that would be interested in their service?

If you have a tradeshow coming up and are planning on using one of the 5 approaches from above, let’s sit down and talk.  We will walk you through our four step process to ensure optimal results each and every time.  If you need help manning your booth, you can even contract one of our Tradeshow Marketing Professionals to work with you in your booth during your tradeshow to make sure the whole thing goes off without a hitch.  Just want to run your approach by us for a suggestion or two?  No problem, just give me a call or send me an email and I would be more than happy to help you out.

We are only as successful as our clients, and we want continued success.

Derek Weber
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