Five trade show mistakes to avoid

December 13, 2012

Mistake #1: Not having a pre-game plan.

Trade shows are one of those things that sneak up on you. You’re going to have to be out of the office for a few days, you need everything shipped in advance and you’re juggling your regular work. But the prep work should be done months in advance, which you can still take action on the ideas you think will give you the bang for your buck.

You should have an action plan for pre show, the show itself and post show. Most people put some thought into the actual event but rarely do anything in advance to get attendees to their booth. You can do something traditional like an attendee bag insert or you could get creative and do something in the lobby of the hotel most attendees will be staying at. But do something.

Mistake #2: Pretty pictures are a dime a dozen

Yes, a spectacular booth is eye-catching and can sometimes draw a crowd. But these days, those are table stakes. Most companies have a visually appealing booth filled with pretty pictures. You want the attendees to know, at a glance, what you do and why they should care.

Keep these tips in mind. Show me before and after shots. One or two huge visuals are more effective than a montage or lots of smaller shots. If you can do a live demo – all the better. Capture my attention from across the room and invite me to get closer.

Mistake #3: I don’t care about you, I care about me

This is a marketing maxim we should all know by now. They don’t want to know about you. They want to know about you in relation to them.

Don’t tell me that your product is a polynomial formula of XYZ. Tell me that you can put more money in my pocket by helping me grow heartier plants. Don’t tell me that your software specs, tell me that you can save me half a day.

Remember, as they walk by you they’re asking, “what’s in it for me?” If they can’t spot the answer, they’ll keep on walking.

Mistake #4: Give me something to talk about

I have never attended a trade show where someone hasn’t said “you’ve got to check out booth XYZ.” Your goal – be that booth. It might be a killer giveaway, a interactive experience that has people coming back for more, a product that is going to change the way I do business or an industry celebrity signing autographs and charming the socks off people.

It’s usually not the cool booth itself. It’s something that’s happening in the booth. Create that buzz on the floor

Mistake #5: Actually follow up

This is the one I find most staggering. More than 90% of companies who exhibit at a trade show do nothing to follow up with attendees. Why bother going?

The problem is – this should be part of the pre-show prep. If it’s not, you’ll come back to the office, things will be crazy, you’ll have to create something to send out, that will take longer than it should and pretty soon, you’ll think it’s been too long so forget it.

That is a seriously expensive decision. Know before you leave for the show what will happen when you get home from the show. Or don’t waste your time going.

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Video can make a prospect’s concerns go away

October 8, 2012

Video is a very useful medium that most companies underuse. But when they are used…they’re typically used to sell or teach.  All of that is well and good.

But I think you might be missing the boat on an opportunity to make your prospects concerns go away.

I’m in Arizona for 10 days — a mix of working with clients and speaking at a conference. I didn’t want to pack enough clothes to cover all 10 days so I decided to pack for 5 or 6 and hit a laundromat on my day off, in between meetings.  I know…the glamours of business travel!

So now it’s Saturday and for me, it’s “find a laundromat” day.  I’m in a city I don’t know and I’m heading to a laundromat, which is usually not a high end consumer experience.  So I have some concerns.

  • Will it be clean?
  • What hours is it open – can I go during daylight?
  • What’s the neighborhood like?
  • Is it crazy expensive?
  • How many machines do they have? Will I have to wait?

So I turn to the digital yellow pages.  Now I am really flying blind. But, on one of the listings — the laundromat had a video. They showed me how clean it was. They showed me the neighborhood.  They demonstrated that there’s always a staff person on-site.  They even showed me how much the detergent etc. would cost.  Their video made my concerns go away.

It wasn’t the closest laundromat. But, because of the video I was happy to pay for a longer cab ride to go to Ginny’s Washhouse. Why? They’d nullified my concerns.

All the laundromats had text in their ads that said they were clean and safe. But only Ginny’s proved it to me by showing me that it was true.

How is this relevant for you? Your potential customers have worries about you too.  They might worry that you’re too far away or hard to find. They might be concerned that you’re too expensive or you don’t understand their industry.  But deep down inside, every prospect has a worry or two about you.

Some of them will show up anyway.  Or pick up the phone and ask about their concern. But many will simply fade away, not ready to proceed with that nagging worry in the back of their head.

The old marketing model would have been to put the spotlight on all that you do right and ignore those worries, hoping they’d go away. Today, we know better.

Attack those buyer concerns and worries.  Pull them out into the light and deal with them.  And a really powerful way to do that is with video. Our brains may believe bullet points and text but our hearts believe what we see.  Video packs a multimedia punch that can use emotions, strong visuals and even music to create a tone of reassurance and confidence.

Keep in mind that sometimes their fears aren’t as easy to visually deal with as whether or not the floors are clean.  You may need to use a testimonial approach where a current client looks into the camera and says, “I thought AB&C was going to be way out of my budget range so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it only cost $X.”

Get creative — but get to their worries and answer them right up front.


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