Stand and Deliver: Tips for Your Booth

Exhibiting Tips for Drawing People Over

The SIPA online marketing forum has been snap, crackle and popping with discussions the last few days. One of the questions that has created the most energy is: “We are considering exhibiting at some conventions in 2011. Can anyone offer best practices or share what your experience has been?”

So here are 10 best practices for exhibiting at conferences from the excellent answers on the forum:

1. By far my best results have come from running drawings for the products—e.g. free sub; free report of high value, etc. The winners typically renew or buy more stuff and a high percentage of the losers become buyers in follow-up (“you lost but you can still buy at this special price”).
– Roger B. Wilson, Jr., The Conference Department, Inc.

2. …if you can, keep a stack of buttons, stickers, blinking lights (one good, cheap source is www.flashingblinkylights.com) with your logo and booth number, so that customers can actually wear them around. In order to give them a button, collect a business card. It’s a good way to turn your customers into ambassadors. You could actually go through the process of checking your subscriber/customer list, but why bother? So what if they’re not all actually customers…it passes good will around—and you can always convert the “wanna bes” after the show.
– Barb Kaplowitz, Big Huge Ideas

3. For your staff, no chairs or stools in the booth, never sit down.
– Dale Debber, Providence Publications

4. Make sure the people working your booth really understand how to engage participants. A lot of booth workers will simply wait for someone to come in before starting their pitch. That means a lot of your potential customers will walk right by.
– Leslie Davidson, Davidson Direct

5. The perennially busiest exhibitor at our events is a company that brings big tubs of flavored popcorn, several varieties. Because it is in bulk, the exhibit staff must “serve” it to those who want it, by scooping it into paper lunch bags. It’s a great way to engage in a non-threatening manner, begin the conversation, and move to Jim’s ignitor/elevator one-two combo punch. Also relatively inexpensive.
– Brett Goetschius, DealFlow Media

6. Great attraction idea—cotton candy. Bit of a pain to bring the machine, but people love it.
– Laura Enock, CUcontent.com

7. We have found that you must have an engaging attraction to draw people to your booth—a contest, a game, free espresso, a magician—not just the standard tchotchkes (mints, pens, mouse pads). Also, make sure you set measurable goals for your exhibit experience: Number of demos, number of business cards, number of sales. Most exhibits, in our experience, don’t pay for themselves. Most people are just there to “fly the flag.” Bad investment. Good luck.
– Jim Sinkinson, Infocom Group

8. Playing on the button theme, for larger trade shows, one company I worked for told people who stopped by the booth that they had spotters walking the show floor giving out prizes. Anyone wearing one of the buttons would be eligible to win a prize. It increased the likelihood that people would actually wear their buttons, and sent other people to the booth to pick one up. We had buttons all over that floor!
– Leslie Davidson, Davidson Direct

9. When nobody is around try standing in front of the booth, not in back. People then think there must be something worth lingering for and join you.
– Roger B. Wilson, Jr., The Conference Department, Inc.

10. If you are still thinking of “non-edible” tchotchkes, think about offering something for the attendees’ kids or pets. Everyone has all the pens, thumb drives, golf balls, LED key chains and stress squeeze balls they’ll ever need. But a little something to bring back to the kids or the kitty will be scooped up. I wouldn’t go near a software salesman for a case of Titleists, but a goldfish bowl of miniature Transformer toys will reel me in every time.
– Brett Goetschius, DealFlow Media

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