Trade Show Fails!

By Sam Malik

I have attended trade shows for nearly 25 years and I have seen it all. CES, COMDEX, CEDIA, DSE, ISE, NAB, InfoComm, etc. Trade Shows are not cheap to attend and require planning and usually a significant investment, even for a smaller booth. I personally have designed and worked booths from 10’x10′ up to mega-booths of 200’x400′ in size. The fact is trade shows cost a lot of money and can deliver much needed or desired exposure for the investment if you follow some simple rules and plan ahead.

There is plenty to say, so I will try and narrow it down to a few key facts and rules to help guide you. The first is: location, location, location! Work with the trade show folks and pick a booth location for the best exposure. Smaller booths get better recognition on the corner vs. sandwiched in between many others. Larger booths are better on main aisles instead of in the middle of a cluster of booths. Make your booth stand out, booth graphics, overhead signage, listing in the show directory are all good ways to help people find your booth.

Once you get them to the booth, make sure your booth is ready when the show opens. Vacuum and clean up trash and boxes. Do not eat or drink in your booth! Do not sit down in your booth: Stand and greet customers. Do not sleep in your booth or do your email on your phone or PC. The trade show is costing your company $10K-$250K to attend for two to three days, make the most out of it. Rent the show scanner, scan people and make note of what type of lead they are. And collect business cards. Avoid giveaways or freebies in favor of a presentation or daily drawing for a product, service or valuable item.

Make customers feel welcome and comfortable to walk up or walk inside your booth area. Make them feel you have value and interest in showing them your product or service. Be prepared: Have plenty of business cards and literature on your product or service. Maybe offer an incentive or show special for purchases made within 30-60 days of the show dates. TAKE SOME MINTS! Keep your clothes ironed and your breath fresh to keep potential customers engaged. Avoid the late night parties, get some sleep and be fresh, well rested, and on time to your booth to turn on equipment

Keep your booth neat and clean. If you are from another country, have people in the booth who natively speak the language(s) of the place you are in. Make sure you have enough people to rotate and take breaks. Break time is for email, drinks and lunch outside of the booth. NEVER eat or drink in the booth. (Yes, I said it twice).

Your trade show booth is no time for a fashion show or fashion statement. Your clothes should be clean, ironed and professional. Uniforms like polo shirts with the company logo are a good way to help identify who is working the booth and available to answer questions on products or services the company offers.

Sam Malik is an executive level Manager with 25 years of experience in sales and marketing of computers, general electronics and audio visual products. He is available for hire or consulting projects to help other businesses improve their go-to market strategy and planning for trade show excellence and ROI.

This blog was reprinted with permission from Sam Malik and originally appeared here.