OVERWHELMED BY YOUR EXHIBTION TO-DO LIST – BREAK IT INTO BITE-SIZED CHUNKS!
One of the biggest worries we hear at ProExTra from clients and delegates on our workshops is that they don’t know where to start in preparing for a trade show so they end up doing nothing, turning up with a couple of banners and hoping for the best. In the events industry there seems to be a big assumption that everyone knows how to ‘do it’ and you can’t ask for help. Reality couldn’t be further from the truth – trade shows and exhibitions are complicated, hard work, energy sapping and expensive. They can also be great fun and when planned and executed well and can deliver long-term sustainable relationships that generate profitable sales. So if you’re one of the ones who shivers every time someone mentions the ‘T’ word then you’re definitely not alone but there are some simple steps you can take to tackle it!
It might help to break the whole process down into manageable chunks as we do in our workshops Three distinct modules take delegates through a series of building blocks that help pull an aligned, comprehensive and logical plan together which is much easier, and more fun to deliver.
So what are the blocks – well it’s as easy as P.I.E.!
One of our favourite quotes comes from Abraham Lincoln who said ”Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening my axe’‘ and it’s so true in the context of trade shows. The more time you can invest in planning and preparation the more effective your trade show execution and profitable lead generation will be. And we’re not just talking about creating high, impact graphics and booking accommodation – we’re talking about setting SMART objectives your whole team can buy into, researching which show you should actually be at and inviting existing customers to come and see you at your stand (yes, existing customers). Everything that happens on the days of your trade show is based on a decision you’ll make in the planning process and every decision should link back to a clear strategic objective for why you’re exhibiting in the first place. The earlier in the process you can start your planning the better, we’d always recommend giving yourself 12 months if you can, but even if you’ve only got 2 weeks, there’s still a lot of effective planning you can do.
So you’ve done some amazing planning and made it to the show and now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the hoards of visitors to swamp your stand right? It doesn’t always work like that unfortunately and sometimes it’s hard to work out why despite all your best laid plans it’s just not busy on your stand. Don’t worry we’ve all been there, but if this happens for you it does give you some time to look around and think about why, what are other people doing that you’re not, what are your team doing (or not doing) on the stand? So often the simple things like tables acting as barriers, staff eating / drinking or on the phone or trying too hard to spot the right visitor can all work against you. We’re generally a nosey bunch in business and just having a couple of visitors at your stand will attract others who think they’re missing out – so relax and start chatting with passers by, you never know where it might lead. One of the other big assumptions in the exhibitions world is that sales staff will always make your best team on the day and it doesn’t always necessarily follow – selling to known contacts in a warm and cosy office chair with a coffee in your hand and a laptop by your side is very different to stopping people who may or may not be interested in your product or service. Don’t be afraid of picking your own squad of players who might offer you something different from traditional sales.
You got through it – well done, now it’s time to put your feet up and relax after all your hard work? Not quite, this is when your hard work really starts in turning all those red hot leads into sales – which is a good point to mention not to forget to bring your leads back with you. Sounds obvious but here at ProExTra we’ve heard so many stories of boxes of business cards being left on the stand, files of lead capture forms being left on aeroplanes and corrupted data in electronic devices. If disaster strikes, there will probably be 2-3 memorable leads where you’ll be able to recall most of the detail between you and your team and with the magic of the Internet it shouldn’t be too difficult to track people down these days. If you do have your leads it’s time to execute that brilliant follow-up campaign you created in the planning stage, remembering that on average you’ll need 7 touchpoints with your prospect before any cash changes hands.
Don’t let anyone kid you into thinking exhibitions and trade shows are easy or simple – to do them well they take time and effort but they can work!
If you’d like more inspiration on the art of Exhibiting Brilliantly look out for our book The Exhibitionist due out soon or give one of us a call on 07891 122542 to discuss your specific Trade Show Troubles