Confuse or Lose: 3 Keys to Avoid Trade Show Confusion

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In a recent coaching session, my client started telling me all about the different products he was going to be showing at the trade show he was preparing for. I listened patiently and then asked “which is the most important one?” “They all are” was my client’s response.

Over the years I’ve seen this mistake played over and over again at various shows.  Booths stuffed full of stuff, different stations and activities that makes it look like a three-ring circus. Presented with this jumble, the visitor may or may not try to figure out whether the exhibitor has something of interest to offer.

According to psychological research, when the brain is presented with too much information to absorb, it easily becomes confused. And at a trade show, a befuddled mind often takes the easy way out, and together with the body, moves on to the next booth.

The message I get from these types of exhibitors is three-fold – ill-prepared, lazy, and selfish. They are ill-prepared and lazy because they haven’t taken the time to focus on one specific product or message for their target audience, and selfish because it’s all about them and not about their prospects and customers.

To avoid buyer confusion at your next show, here are three important keys:

1.    Take time to plan and crystallize your exhibiting goals and objectives.  The purpose of your booth is to attract the right buyers so that you can have a meaningful conversation about their needs and wants.

2.    Have one clear message and focus for your booth.  Remember that according to trade show research, over 76% of visitors go to shows to see “what’s new.”  With this in mind, present something new, exciting and different.

3.    Keep your booth open and welcoming.
a.    Get rid of chairs to avoid the sitting temptation.
b.    Keep tables at the sides or at the back of the booth (tables at the front act as a barrier).
c.    Make sure your booth isn’t overflowing with your own staff who stand around chitchatting with each other when the show is slow.

Finally, as you prepare for your next show, remember to keep focused on what’s most important to your target audience – not you!

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies”and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com. Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.

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Putting a Human Face on Virtual Trade Shows

There is little that charms us more than a warm smile, and a strong, friendly handshake when we greet someone. Even more so when that someone is a customer, supplier or prospect at a trade show where the show floor is overflowing with smiles and handshakes. But how many of them are truly sincere? To stand out from the crowd, yours must be the most authentic.

But what about virtual events that are remote, and therefore remove the human element? How can you replicate that genuine grin through cyberspace?

Begin by ensuring that your face appears in all aspects of your virtual world participation. People like to know what you look like when they start communicating with you virtually. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to look like George Clooney or Penelope Cruz to take a good headshot! What counts is the way you convey your honesty, integrity and warmth. In fact, people who are too good-looking in photographs can often be a put-off to people. Studies have shown that people naturally trust other individuals who look average, and you feel you can relate to them.

Many times people use headshots that were taken years ago and if you met them in person, you’d hardly recognize them.  Rather than have a friend use a digital camera to take a quick snapshot, invest in a professional headshot, a business portrait using a photographer that knows how to bring out the best in you and knows your image must inspire confidence, but not be over-bearing.
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Tradeshow Exhibiting & Job Interviews – How to Avoid the Red Flags!

A recent Gillette Survey of 500 HR professionals revealed that 84% agree that well-groomed employees climb the corporate ladder faster than those who are not well-groomed.  When it comes to first impressions, 90% of those surveyed place more importance on being well-groomed than even a firm handshake.

Tradeshow exhibiting, and your presence on the show floor, at educational sessions, and networking events, is when those first impressions count the most. How you look sends important visual cues to your prospects and customers about your professionalism, and your confidence.

As a company ambassador, your role should be one of complete and utter professionalism. Does that mean you need a uniform? Not necessarily. However, it does give a unified look to your team, and easily distinguishes you from others, especially in a crowded booth.  Uniforms help visitors easily pick out the company representatives.

No matter what, professionalism, being well-groomed, and proud to be at the show representing your company, is essential.  The role of company ambassador should be viewed as an honor. Leave behind the naysayers who feel shows are a necessary evil, and a waste of time and money.

A USA Today Snapshot® based on the Gillette Survey, featured the biggest red flags for job interviews:

Body odor 90%

Wrinkled, inappropriate or ill-fitting clothing 61%

Sweat stains 54%

Messy hair 49%

Piercings/tattoos 46%

These all aptly apply to your trade show exhibiting. I would also include bad breath in this list.  Very few people have the courage to mention this to your face, so the responsibility is yours. Popping an Altoid in your mouth every few hours, helps guarantee a little “breath freshness.” Plus, peppermint acts as a quick “pick me up” without the side effects of caffeine.

Jeffries in his book “What Up With Your Handshake?” notes that, “whether you’re actively job searching or currently employed, you never know when the next opportunity will present itself.  You can run into a potential employer at the gym (the tradeshow booth) or on your way to the store (a networking event), so it’s really important to look and feel your best at all times.”  Tradeshows and meetings are public forums where you never know who you’ll meet, and what opportunities are on the horizon.

This all adds up to awareness, and just looking your best at all possible times.

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com. Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.

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