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      March 2015

      Is Your Trade Show Audience Engaged?

      trade show audienceIf you’ve ever been to trade show you know what they’re like. It’s usually a gargantuan room, possibly a conference center, or hotel ballroom.  As you enter the large space you’re overwhelmed by visual stimuli and pushy sales people trying to get you interested in their product.

      Typically trade shows can consist of dozens if not hundreds of different vendors all offering something of similar topic or category. It’s very easy to blend in with the neutral color walls, and the temporary carpet they always lay down just to rip up and throw away the next day. So how do you stand out, and more importantly tell if your audience is engaged?

      Most importantly and the first thing to look for are non-verbal cues. Folded or closed arms typically mean “I don’t want to talk to anybody.” If someone makes eye contact and smiles this typically shows a willingness to open up and start a conversation about your product or services being offered. At the very least you’ll share a quick hello and a smile.

      Even if a conversation isn’t struck immediately, and you only get a quick hello, that’s quite ok. Many times when someone first arrives at a trade show they make a b-line for something specific that they’ve researched prior to arriving. After that’s taken care of they typically circle back and check out the other booths. This is where that previous quick smile and hello can lead to further conversation.

      Once you’ve grabbed the attention of your audience now the verbal cues come into play.  Is the person reciprocating in conversation by asking questions or are the zoned out give one word answers?  Chances are if they’re not asking further questions and continuing to fact find about your business then they’re probably not interested and won’t convert into a sale.

      Verbal communication goes both ways. If you’re not keeping them interested or asking the right type of questions then you can expect to lose the interest of your audience. Be sure to ask open ended questions such as, “What is one instance where you think you could use our product?” Asking a close ended questions like, “Do you think you could use our product?” could result in a thoughtless one word response like yes or no.

      Using these easy verbal and non-verbal cues can make all the difference in sales and making sure you’re focusing your time on the right people who are most likely to convert.

      Making Trade Shows Inbound Marketing Friendly

      inbound marketing

      Trade shows are standardized and essential to your business needs, but a specific challenge facing nearly every participant is how to twist these events into an inbound marketing event. Typically the process is the same for everyone:

      –          You register, design your pitch, and select your level of participation (sponsorship packages, floor placement, etc.).
      –          You arrive, set up your booth, and go through the motions of presenting to anyone who will listen.
      –          You leave, return to your office, and analyze the usefulness of joining in the event.

      Did you get any solid leads? Did you develop any game-changing partnerships? More than likely you’re shrugging your shoulders and hoping for the best. You got your message out there, so now it’s time to reap the benefits…but what if there aren’t any?

      Sure, trade shows are essential and they have a chance of paying out through new business. However, compare how much you spent on attending and designing your presentation against your expected return. Was it actually worth it, just based on the pure financials?

      That’s why making a trade show a success method of inbound marketing is so essential. Stop wasting money! Here are the steps toward making a trade show a better opportunity for your company:

      1. Establish a plan. Don’t just stand at your booth and shout at people as they walk by. Set specific metrics to target and track.
      2. Create a pre- and post-show strategy. Promote your attendance, devise an incentive of attracting people to you prior to the show, and also promote a call to action for follow-up for interested parties after the show.
      3. Develop original material. Do not show up using the same material from the last show you attending. Everything needs to be fresh and unique!
      4. Nurture your leads.  Receive a commitment to follow-up from the interested party and then commit yourself to developing the lead further. Crossed fingers won’t win business.
      5. Dump the giveaways. You don’t need to hand out pens and totes to win business. Deals close through follow-up and accountability, not because you stuffed someone’s arms full of junk. Save money by forgetting about free giveaway trinkets.

      By using inbound marketing techniques, you will be targeting the right people and getting the most out of your advertising efforts. And who doesn’t like efficiency?


      Trade Show Tool Kit

      trade show tool kit

      It is always when you get the worst headache ever that you remember that you forgot to pack any aspirin, or even band-aids for that nagging paper cut. Once you set up at a trade show event, you can pretty much feel as if you’re stuck there without any supplies you may actually need. Trade show hours can be quite lengthy, so it’s good to make a list of items you may need in your trade show tool kit.

      Basic Items

      Let’s start the list with a few basic items everyone needs:

      • pens
      • pencils
      • paper products
      • notepad
      • business cards
      • paper clips
      • rubber bands
      • a stapler and extra staples

      This is basically a list of everyday office supplies. If there is any other item you use on a daily basis, such as a stamp or scissors, bring those along as well.

      A Real Toolkit

      Let’s face it, it does not matter how much we prepare, things can break or malfunction at a trade show event. There are certain tools you should bring along just in case of a mishap. Including these tools in your overall trade show kit will not only make it easier to repair things, but will also give you some peace of mind.

      • screwdriver
      • hammer
      • pliers
      • duct tape (which comes in a variety of colors these days)
      • extra extension cords and electrical adapters

      Packing a set of cleaning supplies is also a great idea. Items such as paper towels and glass cleaner are two of the most useful. Don’t forget about your own needs as well. Band-aids, headache medicine, plenty of water, and quick healthy snacks like a trail mix, should definitely be on your list.