Some good advice I came across on the bad habits and lack of prep that can lead to a wasted trade show experience.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Tradeshows
Do you know the Seven Deadly Sins? I’m not talking about pride, envy, lust, and all the rest that you may be familiar with. While those are important, chances are they won’t crop up at the average tradeshow. Instead, there’s another set of sins – seven deadly sins – associated with exhibiting. If you commit one or more of these, you can count on a dreaded result: exhibiting that is ineffective, counter-productive, and a monumental waste of time and money!
Are you guilty? Is your exhibiting in mortal peril? Check the list and see:
Sin #1: Neglect
Failing to set exhibiting goals is one of the most deadly tradeshow sins. Having goals delineates your purpose for exhibiting. This is the essence of the whole exhibit. Knowing what you want to accomplish at a show will help plan every other aspect – your theme, the booth layout and display, graphics, and more. Exhibiting goals should complement your corporate marketing objectives and help in accomplishing them.
Sin #2: Illiteracy
You may be able to read the exhibitor manual – but are you? The exhibitor manual is your complete reference guide to every aspect of the show and your key to saving money. Everything you need to know about the show is in those pages: show schedules, contractor information, registration, service order forms, electrical service, floor plans and exhibit specifications, shipping and freight services, housing information, advertising and promotion. Remember that the floor price for show services is normally 10-20% higher so signing up early will always give you a significant savings.
Sin #3: Pride
It’s good to be proud of your staff. After all, you’ve taken a tremendous amount of time recruiting, interviewing, and hiring good people to work for your organization. But at tradeshows, more often than not, those valued employees are sent to work unprepared. Enormous time, energy and money are put into organizing show participation. However, the people chosen to represent the entire image of the organization are often left to fend for themselves. They are just told to show up. That’s both arrogant and unwise. Your people are your ambassadors and should be briefed beforehand – why you are exhibiting; what you are exhibiting and what you expect from them. Exhibit staff training is essential for a unified and professional image.
Sin #4:Being Inhospitable
Attendees at a tradeshow are your guests. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, the attendees are visiting your company. They are in your trade show booth, talking to your staff. It is your job to be a gracious host. To do this, you must focus on the attendee’s needs. Do this by asking open-ended, probing questions, designed to elicit information about the attendee’s real needs and interests. Avoid missing qualifying information and potential valuable leads.
Sin #5: Busywork
Idle hands may be the devil’s playground, but being busy to no effect is hardly a good idea. Staff members, who are unsure of what to do in the booth environment or feel uncomfortable talking to strangers, end up handing out literature or giveaway items just to keep occupied. Literature acts as a barrier to conversation. It is vital that people chosen to represent the organization enjoy interacting with strangers and know what is expected of them in the booth environment.
Sin #6: Ignorance
Being unfamiliar with demonstrations is tantamount to shooting yourself in the foot. What’s the point of hauling your snazzy new piece of equipment across the country to a tradeshow if no one knows how to operate it? This often happens when the sales staff is sent along to represent a high-tech or complex piece of machinery. Communicate with your team members before the show and ensure that demonstrators know what is being presented, are familiar with the equipment and how to conduct the assigned demonstrations.
Sin #7: Laziness
The work doesn’t stop when the show is over. Ignoring lead follow-up and post-show evaluation are deadly sins that happen after the show. Sadly, show leads often take second place to other management activities that occur after being out of the office for several days. The longer leads are left unattended, the colder they become. Prior to the show, establish how leads will be handled, set timelines for follow-up and make sales representatives accountable for leads given to them. Post show evaluation allows you to improve future performances. Investing the time with your staff immediately after each show isn’t a luxury – it’s an imperative!