What a Trade Show is Really About
Do you know what a trade show is really about, as an exhibitor? Chances are, you’d respond that it’s about showing your latest and greatest stuff to your top customers and hottest prospects.
That’s true, but backwards. Trade shows are about customers and prospects, not your product or service. And if you don’t know what your customers want, how can you give it to them?
Here are some suggestions about how to find out what those customers of yours are expecting. That way, you know how to deliver it when they show up.
1) Talk To Them:
It sounds like common sense, but when was the last time you called a customer and asked them what they wanted to see at your next trade show? If it’s never happened (or it was a long time ago), maybe it’s time to try it.
The process is relatively simple. Ask your best customers and top prospects what their purpose is in attending the show. Then ask what they want to accomplish. Next question? What kinds of premiums or prizes would they be interesting in?
The answers may surprise you. They’re probably not as interested in all the bells and whistles on your latest product as you are. They may be looking for answers or product knowledge. This can help them make the best choice between competing solutions. So if your product demo’s focus on showing everything your widget can do, it may not be hitting home with your prospects.
And, without knowing what a trade show is really about, you might never know those freebies that you’ve been giving away for such a long time may have never even gotten out of the exhibit hall. Or they may have been trashed at the hotel when it came time to pack an overloaded suitcase for the trip home. However, if you know what matters to your customers, you can tailor your giveaway to match their expectations.
2) Check Their Pulses:
This is especially effective if you’re incorporating a live presentation. Audience responses can be tracked with keypads provided to booth visitors who watch the presentation. During the show, the presenter can ask multiple-choice questions. Then the audience can register their responses on the keypads.
This process allows you to gauge the collective thoughts of the audience, on the fly. Used well, this can even alter the course of the presentation. Based on audience responses, the presenter can focus on exactly what that particular group is interested in.
Attendees’ responses can also indicate who among the group will be the hottest prospects. This information can be transmitted (in real time) to the sales force in your trade show exhibit. They can then engage these visitors immediately following the presentation.
The outcome is, in fact, the prize of what a trade show is really about. You learn what your prospects want, what they need, what their buying power is, along with their current business challenges. The result of that is that the audience gets to hear the answers that interests them. And your staffers discover whom they should be connecting with after the presentation. Everybody wins!
3) Get In Their Faces:
You can gain an enormous amount of information just by asking questions when attendees are in your trade show exhibit. Here’s an example of how it can work.
One exhibitor was planning to build a new trade show booth before next year’s show. They wanted to know what their best customers and hottest prospects wanted to see in the exhibit’s next incarnation.
On a pre-printed index card, they asked a series of questions. (The same process could be accomplished with booth staffers using clipboards or attendees using a tablet kiosk in the trade show exhibit). What they wanted to know was unique to their situation. But reviewing their questions can help you determine what kind of information you’d like to get from your own booth visitors.
This exhibitor asked:
1) What does your company do?
2) Is this your first time visiting our trade show exhibit?
3) What is the most interesting part of our booth? (options were offered for them to chose from)
4) What else would you like to see in the booth? (again, options were offered)
5) How would you rank our booth, compared to other trade show exhibits you’ve seen here?
From the surveys this exhibitor collected, they learned more of what a trade show is really about, and were able to make concrete changes to their new trade show booth design. They added more open demonstration areas and more visible graphics. They also used larger video displays and provided a more accessible information desk. The exhibitor gave customers what they wanted, and their new booth was a huge success.
Beyond these three suggestions, you might be surprised to find out how much information you’ve amassed on the people you’ve been doing business with for a while. Your sales staff can probably give you much more than just the sales history of your biggest buyers. Depending on how your company interacts with customers, you might know everything from their buying cycles to their golf handicaps.
So, what a trade show is really about is gathering data. Your job is to gather everything you can learn about your customers and prospects. Then you’ve got to use that information to craft the best way of attracting them to your trade show exhibit. Once they’re inside your trade show booth, the data you’ve collected will be invaluable for designing the ideal product demo or live presentation to give them exactly what they need to know.
Are you ready to revolutionize the way you reach out to the people you want to entice into your trade show exhibit? If so, you’ve now got three ways of gathering intel to help you connect with them in the most effective ways. Start asking questions!
Do you want your audience to tell you what they want to hear or what they want to see? Either way, a great exhibit can help you tell your story effectively. Whatever the scale, from a portable display to a large modular exhibit, American Image Displays offers a wide range of choices and an array of accessories. We can help you improve how you exhibit, while making it more successful. To learn more, call at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected]