A Marketing Checklist for Exhibiting at a Trade Show Booth Part 3

 In Blog Post, Hank Yuloff, Marketing Ideas, Tradeshow Marketing


“Hi, my name is Hank, and I am a tradeshow-aholic.”

If you have been looking for information on how to prepare for and staff your trade show booth, then you have found the correct blog post. You need this information because I have seen too many of you head to trade shows with just a handful of brochures that you just lay out on the table and call it a day. Those last-minuters rarely have the optimum experience when exhibiting at a trade show.

Though it may vary in importance, exhibiting at trade shows is a virtual YES for every one of our private coaching clients. When you choose the right event, it is an incredible way to meet a lot of your potential clients at one time.  There are a lot of ways you can make your trade show activity easy, effective and more productive.

Your Pre-Trade Show Activity

As with all of your marketing tactics, how much you succeed becomes easier with preparation. Here are some things you should do before heading to the show and setting up your booth:

      • Research the trade show. What organization is putting on the show?  What is its mission? What benefits does it offer its members? You should know how your company fits in.  It is also important to know how many shows that the organization has put on.  The newer the show, the more mistakes they will make in promoting the show, and therefore, promoting you and your company. On the other hand, the stronger the show and the more linked to your target market, you may want to consider being a sponsor. It all depends on what the costs vs. the benefits are for you. And if you have exhibited at that show in previous years, make sure you check with the promoters on things they have done to change the show. Most changes will be for the good, but there is always the chance that a change will affect you more than others.

      • Plan who is going to be in your booth.

    • It is amazing how many small business owners send their employees to the show but eschew the opportunities that having the owner be at the booth offers their company.  If you are a sole proprietor, this is a good time to get a friend to help you.  I used to do this prior to Sharyn and I joining forces.  I used people who sold a different advertising product to the same target market so they could get some leads out of it, too. Trade shows are a great place to train new employees or employees that have very little direct connection with your clients. Let them shadow other employees in your booth and let them soak up the knowledge. Ask them later all the things they learned.
      • Who is coming to the party?

Who does that organization tell you will be coming to the show?  What are their job titles?  Do they match your target market?  From where are they attending? Are they all local, or are they flying to the event?  That makes a huge difference in the amount of time they spend at the show and how serious they may take the event.  Can you get a list of attendees from the organization?  If so, you can contact them prior to the show and invite them to your booth.  You can also invite them to meet you at a specific time for a private meeting.

      • When you know who is coming to the party, you can order the right promotional products that will fit the theme of the event and will be useful and needed by the attendees.  There is NOTHING BETTER than having people come to your booth and say “Someone told me you have Left Handed Smoke Shifters!  I HAVE to have one!” This gives you the opportunity to open and continue the conversation.  Order from us and mention this blog and we will give you a 20% Discount on your first and second orders. Our promotional product company is here!

    • Plan the look of your booth.

You are going to have to get attendees to step over the magic line out of the aisle and into your booth or get them to step up to your table. Signage will need to be attractive to your clients.

    • Be prepared to say hello to YOUR clients.  If you are attending a show that fits your demographics, there is a good chance that some of your clients may attend.  You should have a specific plan to greet them.
    • Prepare your trade show speech.

This would be your equivalent of an elevator pitch.  Remember that you are going to have to get attendees to step over the invisible line out of the aisle and into your booth.  Be brief and ask questions.  LOTS of questions.  I have a few favorites, including “how are you enjoying the show?” and “what would you need to find to consider your time invested here a success?”

    • “Ya gotta know the territory.”  To paraphrase the Music Man, you need to know who are the sponsors and all of the activities that are going to take place at the event.
    • Do you have competition?

We always want to find out if we have competitors at the show.  We want to be able to ‘sell’ us compared to them.  If they are, like most of our brethren, not as good as us (that’s just me having fun) or do not offer the breadth of services that we do (no one offers them.  We are very unique) we are prepared to discuss them. You should also know that we always try to be the only business coaches at an event.  We love to own the show and you should, too.

    • Get the mailing list.

If you become a sponsor as well as an exhibitor, many trade show organizers will give you a chance to buy the mailing list (or give it to you if you negotiate it as part of your sponsor package) to reach out to attendees before the event. Think about something you can do to engage them or make them interested in seeking out your booth. Perhaps offer the results of a survey or a useful giveaway. One of our favorite things to offer is one of our 5 marketing books. We choose the one that fits attendees the most. At the very least, you need an amazing giveaway or promotional product so you have something of perceived value to hand out.  If you call us for your promotional products and mention this blog, we will give you a 15% discount on the order.  (800)705-4265.

  • What Else is Happening?

Get to know what else is happening at the trade show.  We just went to one where the trade show booths were spread around the conference meeting room.  This happens quite often but means that you can only have limited times for attendees to come see you. You should know who will be speaking. AND find out if there is a spot on the agenda for YOU to speak. Make sure that you attend whatever events surrounding the show that work for you.

  • Promote your attendance.  Get on social media, email, and even direct mail, to let clients and potential clients know you are going to be at the show. This should not be a once or twice event.  Promote it as soon as you take a booth. Begin to reach out to potential clients and current clients in the area. Let them know why it would be a good show for them to attend. It shows that you have been paying attention to them in your meetings.
  • Have your checklist prepared.

In The Marketing Checklist 2, 49 More Ways to Master Your Marketing, we have a checklist of all the important things you should have with you at the show.  There are roughly 50 things on that list.  If you would like a copy, go to www.FreeMarketingConsultation.com.  Take the short assessment and sign up for a 20-minute conversation with us. During that conversation, mention you want that checklist and we can send it to you.  Or you could just buy the book.

Whatcha Going to do During the Tradeshow?

I challenge you to be the first one at the trade show.  This helps in two ways

    • If you are going to set up the day before the show: you need to be the first one there so that you can be set up and then assist other exhibitors in setting up their booths.  This way you develop relationships.
    • If you set up the day OF the show: make sure you are there as soon as the doors open for the very same reason as above.
    • Plan on taking breaks.  You have to get off the floor for a break.  That is why you should never work a show alone (bathroom necessities wait for no exhibitor).  Also, you may want to bring a second pair of shoes.  It feels good to make a switch.
    • Be friendly!  Ask them how they are enjoying the show. Be the first to say hello.
    • Shake hands. When people stop in your booth, introduce yourself and offer your hand. Wear your nametag with your name easily read.  We also suggest you bring an extra one. Be ready with your elevator speech when people ask about you or your company.
    • A word about questions. What are you hoping to get from reading this blog?  Yes – open ended, not yes or no questions work best.  Ask them how you can help them that day because you might be able to send them to the right booth.

  • For goodness sake, do not sit behind your table.

Drinking water is ok, but try not to eat. Do not check your phone for emails.  Talk to the attendees, NOT to your team members.  It is completely OK for you to have fun and help the attendees have fun, too.

  • Use visitors’ names. And thank people for stopping by.  Tell them you will get back to them immediately (you have 24 hours folks).  If they are the top 20% of those you are looking for, let them SEE that you are AND TELL them that you are putting their card into your wallet because it is that important for you to follow up with them. You may want to ask them for a second card to enter in your prize drawing.

(Hey – if you are one of our private coaching clients, PLEASE ask me about this step.  We have some extra information for you)

  • Thank the organizers. Look for board members, conference planners and the association management to thank them for the opportunity and congratulate them on the event. At the end of a show we recently exhibited at, I happened to see the car of the president of their board, so I left a hand written note on his car saying thank you and praising the event.

Show’s Over!  Now the Work Begins

As is true with nearly every marketing activity, the return on your investment will go up with diligent follow-up. IT’S NOW YOUR MOVE! It is up to you to make the right connections and be consistent in following up. Here are some suggestions:

  • Some people say that you should wait for a visitor to leave your booth prior to taking notes.  I prefer to let them SEE that I am taking notes in order to serve them better. It makes them stick around for just a few moments longer and I can ask one more question or two. You can use the backs of business cards, or the attendee list, to record details about the person, what you talked about and the follow-up you should undertake. But here is a tip no one else will give you:  Bring a blank note pad and a stapler.  Take your notes on the pad and staple their card TO the note sheet.  That way you can take more notes and more complete notes.
  • Add the appropriate tags.  On your note sheet, add them to the appropriate sheets.
  • Send a personal note.

If you discussed something interesting, you can add information into the note that shows you were paying attention.  I prefer this note go through the mail – NOT AN EMAIL.  We use our SendOutCards account to get them out fast and inexpensively. If you would like a free trial, connect with us at info@YuloffCreative.com

  • Connect on Social Media. Ask them if they are Facebook and LinkedIn and make that connection.  In fact, if you have the apps on your phone, you can do this at the booth, not afterwards. Send a private message reminding the client that you met at the trade show. Look for contacts you have in common.
  • Set up Google Alerts.

If you met some good prospects, set up Google alerts to notify you of them being mentioned on the internet. These can identify excellent chances for you to get back in touch.  In sales, sometimes it takes 5 to 12 touches to make a sale.

  • Add extra value. Sending out a summary of some of your favorite sessions or sharing materials and note to the people you met.  This can be done by email after you send the note in the mail.
  • Conduct a post-show review. Take some time while the trade show is still fresh in your mind to review your activities and performance. What could you have done better? What should you do the next time?  Our next step, for example, is to have a custom LUCY’S PSYCHIATRIC HELP booth built. I just drew up the building plans.

Yuloff Creative Prize Wheel at VEA
Final Thoughts

Remember, people who visit you, and all the other exhibitors at the show, are there to see products and services that will make their job easier or their business more successful. You should never feel uncomfortable talking about how you and your company can help them. Here’s the key:  do it in a way that helps them understand what you, and your company, can do to help. I already mentioned it earlier, but if you take the assessment at FreeMarketingConsultation.com we will help you get focused and become more successful at your next show.

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