I’ve been thinking about this blog series for awhile now. It’s finally time to share the 4 tips to becoming a successful exhibitor – and guess what…it’s not the SWAG!!
As a fellow business owner, and long-time exhibitor at events, expos, and conventions….allow me to share the 4 things that they never tell you about when you sign up for an expo. Maybe it’s like the secret sauce to having a great booth….label it what you want. This is what we’ve seen and done over the years that have made our shows more and more effective.
This first tip is booth set up.
Let me take you through how we do our set up:
I’ve got everything I need.
A Backdrop, Check!
Business cards, Check, Check (always double the amount you think you’ll need)!
Display items – Monitors etc, depending on what we’re showcasing.
Swag, Check!…or in other words all the “things” that I’ll give away that have our logo on. (I’ll discuss more about Swag in tip #3)
Mini tip – get a collapsible wagon (or borrow one from a friend/neighbor) you’ll love having this for before and after the event.
Wait, I’m jumping ahead. The week before the event, we sketch out what our plan. What is the size of our booth? What is the size of our banner or backdrop? What is the size of the table (is a table and chair(s) even provided??? Bring a stool or folding chair if not, you’ll want it for short breaks). We take the time the week before the event to catalog everything that is included, everything we’ll be bringing and then map it out. We know what we want it to look like and bring everything we need to make it happen. If our backdrop is too big, how will we shorten it? Do we have a side aisle booth, can we remove one of the sides to create more openness? We know we’ll be talking alot and bring plenty of water. (actually, tiny water bottles are a great give away….nearly everyone will stop to take one)
Side note: some shows are super elaborate. Businesses bring in sofas, faux walls, full living room or kitchen set ups, I once was an entire backyard landscaping exhibited….it’s amazing!! This post is meant for beginners. Individuals and businesses that haven’t had too much experience exhibiting and want to be more successful. But for all of you Pro’s out there – you’ll recognize the wisdom in this series!
The majority of booths have a table and two chairs. The table is set up in the middle with the chairs at the back. 90% of people will but their banner in the back, flyers & swag on the table and sit in the chairs behind the table. This is WRONG. Not like morally wrong or ethically wrong. It’s wrong as a sales person and a marketer. It’s wrong as an exhibitor!
The whole purpose of exhibiting at a show is to get your product or service our into the world. Are you really going to pay to be there, show up, and then look like everyone else hiding behind their tables? A table in the middle puts an actual physical barrier between you and the people you want to talk to….that’s right – you’re there to talk to people!! Put the table in the back (or the side of the booth.) Set the chairs on the side…you won’t be needing them very often (but they are nice to have for short breaks).
A Successful booth is one where the exhibitors are STANDING and TALKING to everyone and anyone who walks by. I will reach out into the aisle, say “Hi” loudly (so I can be heard, but I’m not shouting) until I get eye contact with a passerby. Then I will hand them my flyer and ask them their name and what they do…they will always walk closer to me and look at my booth. I will ask additional details and also why they came to the show – what are they looking for? If I know of a vendor that offers what they want (We always show up early so that we can meet the vendors and chat before the show), I will mention the general location of that vendor but then ask if I can tell them about myself. I know that my service isn’t applicable to everyone who walks by. However, I also know that the person standing in front of me KNOWS different people than I do. If they can’t use my service, they likely know someone who can. I very politely ask them to share my info with that person.
This first tip is the most important! As you read the rest of this series, remember and hold strong to this first tip! Prepare before the event and no sitting (aka hiding) behind the table, you’ll see significant improvement in the quality of your leads, the quantity of leads and the overall success of the event for you.
My next tip in this series will be about your Purpose. Why are you doing a show…what do you want from it? How do you get what you want?