The 7 Habits of Highly-Effective Trade Shows

Steven R. Covey has helped millions of people in their business and professional lives with his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The Seven Habits, first written 17 years ago, has proven to be an effective guide for personal and professional development. And these principles, when applied to your trade show experience, can dramatically improve your experience at the event and your results.

Treating your portable trade show display like your portable office is the key to maximizing your effectiveness at each and every event. The purpose of a trade show is connecting with people, and portable trade show displays enable you to create a space for educating prospects about what your company has to offer and qualifying leads to pitch them for a sale or follow up with them later.

Here’s how to apply Covey’s “7 Habits.”

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Planning is the key to maximizing your trade show experience. Weeks preceding the show, you should exercise your marketing muscles. Let your existing customers and prospects know you will be in attendance. If you have a new product on the horizon, this may be an opportunity to generate some buzz by talking about an unveiling or first-time demonstration at the show.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

What type of ROI are you shooting for? Do you want to inform prospects about your industry and how your product will help them, or will your prospect likely be familiar with your industry already? What are your leads and sales goals for the event? What is your follow-up strategy, and how soon will you be following up with your prospects?

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Before you even get to the show, how is the morale of your sales team who will be face-to-face with prospects? Your sales team is a reflection of the company – if they aren’t enthused about the show, you’re wasting their time and the company’s money by sending them.

If you sense that your trade show staff is dreading the event, try something spontaneous to get them hyped about the company and your products. Ideas as simple as attending a sporting event, a concert or a day at the amusement park on the company’s dime could boost morale.

And when it’s time for the show to begin, what is your plan of action to best utilize everyone’s strengths? How will you most efficiently distribute use of their time?

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

It’s a very, very old marketing principle that is too often overlooked. Very fundamental to any marketing effort is finding a win/win balance where the customer gets what they need and you get what you need.

Because time is of the essence at a trade show, you must figure out how to get the customer to stop at your portable trade show display, quickly qualify them, and assess: whether or not they are your target market, whether they are immediately ready to buy or need more information before they buy or, if they are not a prospect now, could they be one in the future?

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

What is the customers need? How can you fulfill that need/solve their problem? Clearly, if the customer has stopped at your portable trade show display, they are interested in your product. But the first step in qualifying is figuring out what need attracted them to your portable trade show display. Phrases such as “What brings you by here today,” or “What may I do to help you?” are good ice breakers to ease the conversation from generalities and politely get to the point.

Habit 6: Synergize Principles of Creative Communication

The saying goes, “You were given two ears and one mouth,” and this was done for a reason. Listen more than you speak and you will learn a lot more about what the customer is telling you. Listen to their words, translate their body language. When you think you’ve figured it out, feed the information back to the customer in their own words and language. From there, use qualifying questions to build mutual trust and understanding to overcome any objections.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Now this is where it gets personal. A day or a few at a trade show requires peak performance and lots of energy – it can be quite grueling if you’re not prepared. What are you doing to make sure you’re able to give your best before the trade show, and recharge after? In addition, a post-mortem after the show is a great way to identify mistakes, holes in planning and preparation and efficiency drains – not to browbeat you and your team so you can feel sorry for yourselves, but so you can brainstorm and discuss a better strategy for next time.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People turned the tide of the American mindset about work and life – empowering professionals everywhere to expect more of themselves at work and at home. The “principles” of this extraordinary work have been duplicated all over the world. Apply them not only to your prospects’ experience in your portable trade show display but at every level of your marketing strategy, and you will leap ahead of the competition and create the potential to dramatically improve the results at your next trade show event.

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