Trade Show Advice from Panorama Jack

The key to trade shows is proper planning, getting lots of sleep the night before the show, and not getting too nervous during the show.

Remember that, at the end of the day, people are coming to the event to get free food, win prizes and hang out. So, you will have to do your best to snag their attention and leave a lasting impression. While most of us can’t afford purchasing a dunk tank or having a movie star co-host your booth, so you have to find another way to catch their eye.

You want to be memorable — make people remember at least one thing about their encounter with you.

The sole purpose of your booth is to generate leads so you can do your follow up and emails after the show. What I have discovered over the years is that paper material gets tossed, recycled, or if you are lucky it is saved long enough in a paper bag and used during a summer camping trip. In this case they may or may not notice you just before the fire sears away your phone number.

Use something that stands out like miniature sized business card CD’s. You can find some great deals on the web if you look hard enough. I recommend using for their great low prices.

Business card sized CD’s have a VERY long shelf life because who really wants to throw that away, right?

They make an excellent conversation piece that reflects on how tech savvy you are. The other advantage to these is that they can hold up to 50 MB of YOUR data. That will leave you enough room to include your information packet, your order form, a sample virtual tour, your PowerPoint presentation, and one other miscellaneous item that you might put on there.

But how do you pull that off and make it look slick when the CD is placed into the on board computer cup holder? It’s simple and if you read last month’s newsletter then you are already enjoying the benefits of The combined use of this nifty software and your business CD will also save you hundreds of dollars on printing costs. The total cost of one of these burned in full color is about $.40 and even cheaper if you buy a system and do the printing yourself. Look into it!

Now that you have all of your company information packed into one tiny conversation piece that will last a long time, you are ready for additional planning. Sadly, 80 percent of all trade show leads never get followed up on so it’s very important to plan out prior to the show exactly how leads will be gathered and follow up on. I recommend that you setup a raffle at your booth to win a free virtual tour that will be announced at the end of the show. Purchase a nice fishbowl or other attractive table piece that your visitors can drop a business card into. And always remember (as you hand out your business card sized CD) to ask if it is ok for you to follow up with them at a later time. (While asking this question always shake your head yes and smile.)

Next you need to setup your booth. Remember that booth graphics are the eye candy that will bring people to your booth…unless of course you have that dunk tank or movie star standing there. The first impression must grab attention, because you only have that 3 to 6 seconds in which to work. Formulate an effective graphical statement and it is here that I recommend you have a nice printed sign for your company. Most camera and digital print shops can do this for you on a stiff corrugated plastic sheet. Don’t try to put too much stuff into your graphical message. Simpler is always better. Graphics should be colorful, eye catching and tell your story. Your sign is certainly not the place to showcase 31 reasons to use your technology or other lengthy complicated textual statement. Those turn people off quickly.

When at all possible, never place a table across the front of your booth. That places a barrier between you and your prospects. It makes them more likely to just keep moving. If you do have to have a table I highly recommend that you just stand in front of your booth. You are sure to see the slackers sitting in chairs behind their booths and those should never be your role models. NEVER SIT at a trade show. “Tough it out, soldier”, as Ray Kroc would say. Your feet will hurt and your shoulders will tire but at the end of the day you will have impressed those around you.

Finally you need to remember that if you don’t jump out and reach your customers you will probably lose 80% of your prospects. Attract their attention by being fun and contagious. Don’t be afraid to bounce around a bit and look excited to tell people about what you have to offer. It makes people want to stop and be part of what’s going on. It makes them remember your booth too and also improves your chances later for when you follow up. When you do get their attention, be sure to shake hands immediately and look your prospect directly in the eyes. Repeating their name two or three times during your conversation will not only attract them more to you as people love hearing their own name, it will also help YOU remember it. If you are like most people you forget a name within five to ten seconds after meeting a person. This is because a million things are racing through your head during this first encounter. By saying their name right after they tell it to you, and a time or two during your conversation, you will be able to exit the presentation with confidence.

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