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101 Tips for the Trade Show Exhibitor

    • August 6, 2010

    Where is the hotel? What flight is our tech guy on? Who has the print material? Is anyone coming to this show?

    Wish you'd handled all the details before it's time to light the lights? Fear not. If you refer to this list of 101 Tips for the Trade Show Exhibitor your show will run smoothly before you even step foot out of your office and all the trade show hours through.

    1. Give yourself enough time: Planning and preparation for a major trade show can take 12 to 18 months.
    2. Prepare 3-6 engaging questions before the show.
    3. Create the right first impression - people can read attitude.
    4. Create a booth that makes visitors feel comfortable.
    5. Encourage visitors to want to spend time with you.
    6. Build rapport.
    7. Ask questions that stimulate thought and encourage conversation.
    8. Ask open-ended questions - beginning with who, what, where, when, why or how.
    9. Relate questions to the industry, product/service and its benefits, or to a specific situation.
    10. Avoid trite questions, such as: "Can I help you?"; "How are you doing today?"; "Are you enjoying the show?"
    11. Practice, practice, practice.
    12. Initiate preshow promotions.
    13. Set measurable goals for the show.
    14. Keep even gender balance in your booth.
    15. Remember the 80/20 Rule... Listen 80% - Talk 20% - Those who listen are the most successful.
    16. Be genuinely enthusiastic about your products and services.
    17. Think neatness and visibility when putting your trade show displays together.
    18. Build the impression of demand into your trade show displays.
    19. Use a prize draw or contest to get people to your booth.
    20. Make it easy for booth visitors to get information and that you have plenty of promotional literature on hand.
    21. Be ready to do business.
    22. Have your trade show displays manned at all times.
    23. Send friendly, personable people with a genuine enthusiasm for your company, its products and services.
    24. Cut the dead weight - All staffers should engage attendees, if someone isn't engaging, tell them to take a break or walk the tradeshow gathering information.
    25. Research the trade show before you commit: Does it attract a large number of people from your target audience?
    26. Involve top management in the planning process: You'll get better results from your team if they know upper management is supporting their efforts.
    27. Send e-mail reminders and a direct mail campaign to loyal customers and strong prospects before the show,urging them to stop by your booth.
    28. Plan for security as needed: you don't want expensive prototypes or demo models 'walking away'.
    29. Brief your team on common trade show espionage practices and how to defend against them.
    30. Send enough people to ensure adequate trade show booth coverage throughout the show.
    31. Give each booth staffer a specific role, with job expectations clearly spelled out.
    32. Stress the value of friendly greetings, polite manners, and appropriate body language.
    33. Take the time to familiarize your team with the lead collection technology you'll be using before the trade show.
    34. Make sure at least some of the people going to the show are prepared to answer technical questions.
    35. Check in with your team throughout the trade show to assess performance, reward positive behaviors, and stop negative trends before they get out of hand.
    36. Establish a dress code for your staffers: They'll look more professional and act as better ambassadors for your company.
    37. Don't forget the shoes, hair, and accessories: people notice the details. Manicures are crucial, as your team will be shaking hands hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times during the show.
    38. Breath mints: don't chew gum or eat at the booth.
    39. Practice asking qualifying questions with your booth staffers.
    40. Product demonstrations are a great way to draw a crowd: Make sure your team knows how to give an effective, engaging presentation by having them practice before the trade show.
    41. If you are sponsoring entertainment, a speaker, or other event, make sure your team knows what to do during this time.
    42. Designate a 'go-to' person to act as a liaison with trade show management. The better your relationship with management is, the better your show experience will be.
    43. Read the exhibitor's service manual it. It's full of valuable information to help ensure a stress-free show.
    44. Order services ahead of time. Making deadlines = big savings.
    45. Establish a follow up protocol for hot leads, promising prospects, and likely customers. Use this protocol to turn leads into sales.
    46. Say "Thank You" to attendees for stopping by, to anyone who fills out survey information or participates in a demonstration, during your follow up calls.
    47. Have an inventory list. Informing the crew supervisor of case counts is critical for check-ins and out-bound bill of lading.
    48. Schedule a vendor presentation: Even if just 20 people come to your talk, that's 20 people you get to talk to in depth for 45 minutes.
    49. Decide on your main message: make it a single, short sentence that's memorable.
    50. Pick your booth location wisely.
    51. Finish all the travel arrangements and make sure everyone has the itinerary.
    52. Set your booth apart from others.
    53. Set up meetings with qualified contacts, bloggers, existing customers, the competition, and vendors.
    54. Have an "everything box": pens, stapler, tape, paper clips, scissors, Velcro, name tags, paper, business cards etc.
    55. Wear comfortable shoes.
    56. Ask questions instead of pitching.
    57. Get into the aisle. You're not fettered to the booth. Put yourself out there.
    58. Large monitors with video or flashing images draw a crowd.
    59. Always be able to demo.
    60. Make notes business cards to remember specifics about each contact made.
    61. Take the tech geeks to talk tech to those who don't want to talk to the sales team.
    62. Take key contacts to a happy hour, or put one on yourself at a nearby location.
    63. Walk the floor and talk to everyone.
    64. Lure people with food that isn't candy. Position it on your table so they have to talk to you in order to get to it.
    65. Take time to talk to more qualified people versus wasting time with more less or non-qualified people.
    66. Learn to read prospect body language
    67. Do not rely on the venue's internet connection. Bring demos that do not require the internet.
    68. Have a raffle.
    69. Wear a professionally made name tag.
    70. Don't exhibit at a new show: exhibit at proven shows.
    71. Create a buzz online - use Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
    72. Be aware that everyone is watching you. Dress and act in an appropriate manner.
    73. Add some greenery or fresh flowers.
    74. Use the lulls in traffic to network with other exhibitors.
    75. Use white masonite flooring to reflect light onto your booth.
    76. Before the show, visit your booth as an attendee would.
    77. Stay hydrated - Keep water with you. You'll be talking a LOT.
    78. Talk to a prospect before scanning their badge.
    79. Make sure staffers get regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
    80. Staff your booth with enough people so that staffers DO get breaks.
    81. Convey specific, consistent, benefits oriented, high priority information that is relevant to each target set
    82. Make it loud and clear who you are to show you are worth seeing.
    83. Share a Personal Story. People relate to compelling stories. It could be yours as founder or one of your clients.
    84. Do not "Sell" - EDUCATE.
    85. Have scrapbooks with real people using your stuff.
    86. Get people you know to stand in your booth and look interested.
    87. Make your booth a place people want to hang out: Decor matters!
    88. Appeal to the 5 senses: Look, touch, smell, sound & taste.
    89. Break the grid: Lay out your booth on an angle.
    90. Invite Influencers and press to pour booth for special previews .
    91. Go green! Attendees & organizers do notice if you are ecologically conscience.
    92. Flirt: Don't give it all away up front.
    93. Don't close down early!
    94. Have shopping bags/folders available for any on the spot purchases.
    95. Toss candy at passers by: The reflex is to catch it and they immediately engage.
    96. Put messages on your flooring.
    97. Arm your staffers with answers to common objections.
    98. The only time you should be sitting is if you're talking to a visitor who is sitting with you.
    99. Make friends with your neighboring exhibitors, and refer attendees back and forth.
    100. Learn to more quickly disengage with unqualified attendees.
    101. Hold a contest to reward the staffers who take the highest quantity of qualified leads.


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