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Turn your next trade show into a pot of gold

Turn your next trade show into a pot of gold

August 19, 2010

Strategies to improve your ROI when exhibiting

Unless you have a ton of money to throw away at trade shows, you better read this before you do your next event.

And when it comes to getting the most out of trade shows, Susan Friedmann is one of the best. Known throughout the industry as the 'Trade Show Coach' she has plenty of shortcuts, secrets and simple strategies to help you make the most out of your time spent on the trade show floor. And a little preparation up-front goes a long way once you hit the show floor.

She has plenty of terrific advice I know you'll find valuable so be sure to take a moment to check it out and feel free to share it with your team.

'You never get a second chance to make a first impression,' says Friedmann. It's clich', but it's a phrase that should become your booth staff's mantra. She says a trade show is like a non-stop series of beginnings. Every moment, from the second the doors open until they blink the lights signaling the end of the day, is a moment where you could be meeting customers for the very first time.

Key Secret #1: People have to 'buy' YOU before they can buy FROM you
If all goes well, your crucial first moments can launch a mutually profitable relationship that will last for years. Conversely, if the impression you create is less than positive, you've probably just kissed a lifetime of business goodbye.

'The first step is establishing a rapport with your client, and once that positive foundation has been laid, the hard work of negotiating a deal and closing a sale becomes so much easier. But you have to realize that the actual product or service you're trying to sell doesn't really matter. When you're at a trade show, what you're selling is YOU.'


Inexpensive Strategies to Ensure Customer Loyalty

Susan Friedmann understands and extensively promotes the value of customer loyalty. Friedmann, who bills herself as "the trade show coach" and who consults for exhibitors and organizers shares these simple, inexpensive strategies for making your customers feel valued by you.

1. Send them articles that may be of interest, along with a hand-written note that says "thinking of you." If they are quoted in an article, or their company is mentioned (in a positive way), send them a note of congratulations.

2. Come up with a list of 25 customers who could buy more from you because they are splitting their loyalties. Set up a Google alert to notify you when one of these targeted customers is mentioned on the Internet. Then send them a note and the link.

3. Offer special customer bonuses, such as free downloads of white papers and special reports, which your people could write in-house. Put together a buyer's guide or a checklist. These can be amazingly popular and useful.

4. When you are on the trade show floor, have a special giveaway or demonstration just for existing customers. Alternatively, take them to a special meeting room for privacy while you talk.


Key Secret #2: People won't come in if your body language says, 'Go away!'
Body language plays a huge role in creating first impressions.

Show attendees are constantly watching you. If your body language says, 'I don't really want to be at this show,' or if you look like you're just going through the motions, they'll pick up on that and go elsewhere, she says.

Get off your $#!... Standing back in the corner of your exhibit with your arms folded tells show goers, 'Stay away! I'm on guard.'

Sitting down, flipping through a magazine, or chatting with your colleagues says, 'I've got better things to do than talk to you.' Get up! Introduce yourself. Drop the world's best pick-up line (see p. 13), keep quiet and listen!


And the most successful line you can use at a trade show is ...

This may sound simple -- and it may even sound overused -- but these 5 words work like magic!

Here they are:

"Tell me about your company."

It really is the greatest pick-up line in the world. It works so well because it's an open-ended question that gets your prospects talking and begins a dialogue. Try it and see how more people communicate with you.


Key Secret #3: Focus on the attendee for maximum results.
Welcome them into your booth. This doesn't mean you do all the talking. Listening is more important. 'Shift the focus from your own sales spiel to actually listening to the customer and you'll find your results immediately improve,' she says. ' Ask attendees questions, and listen to their answers. Give them your full attention. Hear what they're saying and offer appropriate responses.

'The fact that you're focused on the attendee, wholly engaged with them, and committed, however briefly, to solving their problems, is one of the easiest, most effective ways to create a positive first impression. It sets a good precedent, establishing how you will do business with this client further down the road. You're laying the foundation for that positive, profitable relationship.'

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President