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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The Ultimate Trade Show Lead: 4 Keys to Exhibiting Success

Do your booth staffers know what information they need to collect for a quality lead?
How do you define a quality lead?

Yesterday, in a brilliant webinar, (sponsored by iLeads and Leadature), “Trade Show Follow-up: The Ultimate Competitive Edge,” Joyce McKee, President, Let’s Talk Tradeshows, talked about the “sales-ready” trade show lead. As usual our thinking is so very similar, and the following is an elaboration of the four keys Joyce discussed so aptly:

1. Involve sales management
Right from the beginning sales management needs to be involved in what actually they feel constitutes the “best” trade show lead. So set the stage and arrange a meeting to discuss this crucial aspect of your exhibiting.  Unfortunately, too many sales managers assume their team know what information to collect.  As we know, ass-u-me (making an “ass of u and me”) is a very dangerous word!

2. Define the “ultimate” sales lead
Clarifying what exactly constitutes a best sales lead possible takes time and forethought. It should be much more than the usual basic information.  Since there may be several opinions as to what is the most crucial information, I suggest you brainstorm all possible information your sales reps need to make a final sale (this will probably differ for different products/services you sell).  Then prioritize your ideas and take the top ten.

3. Create the script
The script is not necessarily a word for word text, rather a list of powerful questions that your team need to ask, so they gather the best possible information they need from the prospect.  Once again, this takes time to create the right approach.

In my trade show training workshops, I recommend the sales team develops a questioning “toolbox,” which contains many different types of questions depending on what type of information they need.  Since the object is to conduct a meaningful conversation with their visitor, they probably won’t be using the same questions over and over again. Rather, when they need a “spanner” question, they pull that one out of their toolbox. They won’t want to use a “hammer” question when they need a “spanner.” For example, they wouldn’t ask “What budgetary constraints are you currently experiencing?” when they should be asking “What are your top buying criteria for “x” product?”

4. Get buy-in
Once you’ve defined the ultimate lead, and written a script, the next step is to get the input, and complete buy-in from the sales  team.  Don’t just tell them what to do, rather have them make their suggestions for improvement, and what they feel comfortable with. In the end, sales people want great leads to follow up, which then generates the ultimate goal – to make sales to increase the bottom-line.

For that to successfully take place , everyone has to be on board – motivated to help make the end result happen.

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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Do You “Think Different” on the Trade Show Floor? Part 1

Two weeks ago, I offered you a challenge – “how to avoid being invisible on the trade show floor.”  One of the three ways I shared is to “be different.”

This week I was re-reading one of my favorite books, “A Whole New Mind,” by best-selling author, Daniel Pink. In it he claims, “we’re living in a different era, a different age.  An age in which those who “Think Different” will be valued even more than ever.”  He discusses that right-brain thinking (the creative side – think in pictures) is every bit as important now – in some cases more important – than left-brain thinking (the analytical side – think in facts and figures).

Pink further discusses “six senses” or six “right-brain directed aptitudes,” namely, design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Now you might well be asking yourself, “what has all this got to do with exhibiting?” I believe that these six aptitudes should make up your entire presence on the trade show floor – from your booth message to how your people interact with prospects.

In “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design & Delivery,” Garr Reynolds goes into great detail about these concepts. Definitely add this book to your library!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share a very abridged version, and how these six ideas relate to your exhibiting experience.

1. Design – This concept expresses the need to start with the end in mind.  Based on your exhibiting goals, you need time during your before show preparation, to really think about your key message and your target market. Then, together with your exhibit designer (external or internal – small booth or large booth), take your ideas and make them visual.  If you’re an analytic, get help.  There’s an over-abundance of creative types out there in the marketplace, use their talents to help make you different and stand out from the crowd.

2. Story – If you remember back to your school days of “show and tell” didn’t you love to share your stuff with friends, classmates, teachers, and the like – in fact, anyone who would listen to your story.  Believe it or not, we’re all born storytellers, and “storylisteners.” If you’ve ever been around kids at bedtime know that story time reigns supreme.
Think about how you could take your exhibiting message and turn it into a visual story.  Admittedly, for some products and services, this is easier than others. Once again, seek out the creative help you need.

3. Symphony – This concept is all about “seeing the relationships between relationships.”  In other words, taking an idea and talking about it in a whole new way that people truly relate to, and more importantly, remember.  To better understand this, let me share what I experienced this week.
I’m currently working with Dino, a physical therapist at a local sport’s medicine clinic. During one of the exercises he had me do, he started to explain the muscle structure in “anatomicalese” – a language I’m not conversant in. He then took what he was saying and likened it to tasks a factory worker might do – some that needed more work (larger muscles), and others that needed less effort (smaller muscles). Eureka! I saw the relationships immediately. What Dino had done so skillfully, was to relate one thing to another in a unique way that allowed me to fully understand (and visualize) what he was explaining. This truly was symphony in action.

More next week in Part 2.

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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