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Turn trade shows into pots of gold

Turn trade shows into pots of gold

April 22, 2009

Strategies to improve your ROI when exhibiting

Unless you have a ton of money to throw away at trade shows, you better read this before you do your next event.

We recently spoke with Susan Friedmann, known throughout the industry as the 'Trade Show Coach,' about her shortcuts, secrets and simple strategies to help you make the most out of your time spent on the trade show floor. And a little preparation up-front goes a long way once you hit the show floor.

'You never get a second chance to make a first impression,' says Friedmann. It's clich', but it's a phrase that should become your booth staff's mantra. She says a trade show is like a non-stop series of beginnings. Every moment, from the second the doors open until they blink the lights signaling the end of the day, is a moment where you could be meeting customers for the very first time.

Key Secret #1: People have to 'buy' YOU before they can buy FROM you
If all goes well, your crucial first moments can launch a mutually profitable relationship that will last for years. Conversely, if the impression you create is less than positive, you've probably just kissed a lifetime of business goodbye.

'The first step is establishing a rapport with your client, and once that positive foundation has been laid, the hard work of negotiating a deal and closing a sale becomes so much easier. But you have to realize that the actual product or service you're trying to sell doesn't really matter. When you're at a trade show, what you're selling is YOU.'


Key Secret #2: People won't come in if your body language says, 'Go away!'
Body language plays a huge role in creating first impressions.

Show attendees are constantly watching you. If your body language says, 'I don't really want to be at this show,' or if you look like you're just going through the motions, they'll pick up on that and go elsewhere, she says.

Get off your $#!... Standing back in the corner of your exhibit with your arms folded tells show goers, 'Stay away! I'm on guard.'

Sitting down, flipping through a magazine, or chatting with your colleagues says, 'I've got better things to do than talk to you.' Get up! Introduce yourself. Drop the world's best pick-up line (see p. 13), keep quiet and listen!

Key Secret #3: Focus on the attendee for maximum results.
Welcome them into your booth. This doesn't mean you do all the talking. Listening is more important. 'Shift the focus from your own sales spiel to actually listening to the customer and you'll find your results immediately improve,' she says. ' Ask attendees questions, and listen to their answers. Give them your full attention. Hear what they're saying and offer appropriate responses.

'The fact that you're focused on the attendee, wholly engaged with them, and committed, however briefly, to solving their problems, is one of the easiest, most effective ways to create a positive first impression. It sets a good precedent, establishing how you will do business with this client further down the road. You're laying the foundation for that positive, profitable relationship.'