Lessons Learned from a Trade Show

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Published on in Marketing and Tradeshows. 1 Comment

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I spent the better part of last week in sunny Orlando, Florida with two of my colleagues. While we didn’t spend much time enjoying the warm weather (a welcome change from the brutal cold here in Wichita), we did spent hours upon hours inside a trade show booth.

For anyone who’s ever worked a trade show, you already know the following to be true:

  1. Comfortable shoes are a necessity. We’re talking imperative. Don’t leave home without them.
  2. You can never have too many business cards.
  3. Mints, water, and inviting smiles must be available at all times.

But that’s just scratching the surface. With every tradeshow comes more knowledge. Here’s some of what I picked up this time around:

  1. Splurging on extra padding and thick carpet from the trade show supplier is worth every penny. Not only does the booth staff experience less physical anguish, but it keeps their spirits up. A comfortable team is a more productive team. If all you can think about is collapsing onto your hotel bed and resting your aching feet, you probably won’t be as focused on engaging booth visitors. So spend a bit now and get a bigger return later when those leads turn into sales.
  2. Giveaways, while sparse during today’s economy, are appreciated if they are useful and relevant. We gave away BoldChat branded stickers from Foundog.com that can be stuck on cell phones, iPods, laptops, cameras and, really, anything you don’t want to lose. If you happen to, say, leave your Blackberry in a cab and someone finds it, they can call the number on the sticker and report it. Foundog gives them instructions for shipping the phone and the finder receives a reward. The best part of all? You get your Blackberry back. Everyone who picked up our little piece of swag commented on how useful it was. Several booth visitors slapped the stickers on their cell phones right then and there (and grabbed one or two for their kids’ iPods once they got back home). Needless to say, the BoldChat logo now adorns a significant number of mobile devices.
  3. Have fun and make friends. I suppose this seems obvious, but after last week, I can assure you it’s not. Of course scoring a good booth location helps with traffic, but so does enthusiasm and friendliness. After sitting in sessions all day long before making their way into the exhibition hall, plenty of the conference attendees were there just for the open bar. But once they started walking around and checking out each booth, they were way more likely to have a chat with a group that looked like they enjoyed being there versus those who looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. Several booths were staffed by people who never stood up or looked away from their laptops. These booths had very little traffic. Is it any surprise? So smile. Get to know more about the business of each visitor to your booth. Listen and when it’s your turn, teach them about your product and why it’s a good fit. Enjoy making new, meaningful connections. These are the kind that last after you return home.

What are some of your tips for a successful trade show?

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