May 21 2013, 03:00 AM by Hal Licino
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Running a successful trade show booth is easy if you follow these 15 key tips:
- Keep your booth staffed at all times. Leaving your trade show booth unmanned is like switching off your website or having your toll free number reach a busy signal. Ensure that your booth staffing never reaches zero by double-teaming personnel and having overflow representatives available at all times.
- Give them a break. While you’re setting up a rotation, ensure that every staffer has enough time to have meals and breaks. If your personnel is eating and drinking in the booth or look like they’ve been awake for three days straight you’re not projecting the professional brand image you want.
- Stay clean & sober. Yes, it’s difficult to avoid the temptations at trade shows in Vegas, Manhattan, or other renowned party centers, but everyone from your company is there to work not carouse. If a staffer shows up at the booth with a hangover, send them back to the hotel.
- It’s not The Dating Game. Trade shows are events set up to engage customers not to set up dates or hookups. Take all necessary steps to be assured that your staffers are not approaching visitors in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner.
- Don’t go the booth babe route. No matter what you think your competition is doing in the sex appeal stakes, don’t ever resort to denigrating your booth and your brand with booth babes. This isn’t 1972 and you’ll offend far more attendees than you will attract.
- Maintain gender & diversity balance. Having a more or less even balance of men and women of various heritage backgrounds in your booth will communicate to your visitors that you are a broad-based company which respects diversity and provides equal opportunities.
- Communicate in perfect English. Various heritage backgrounds are great, but not when they come with impenetrable accents or improper mastery of the English language. Have each of your staffers strive to speak like a television news anchor.
- Enforce a Neat Casual dress code. Review your staffers’ wardrobe choices while still at your office to ensure that each person looks their best.
- Avoid stereotypical questions. Never approach an attendee with “Enjoying the show?” or “Can I help you?” Trite questions are not conversation starters but engagement enders. Ask open ended qualifying questions that encourage the visitor to get involved in a conversation.
- Print lots of promo materials. A good rule of thumb is to estimate the most promotional material that you could ever need and double that amount. One of the worst sins of trade shows is to run out of your materials and have nothing to offer the visitors near the end of the show.
- Set up a stuff box. Place a box with everything you could possibly need in a location in the booth where it’s not necessarily visible by the visitors. Include notepaper, pencils, pens, tissue, paper towels, post-it notes, scissors, tape, staplers, and of course extra generic name tags and business cards.
- Counter the 5-finger discounters. Make tight security arrangements as the hustle and bustle of trade shows is nirvana for thieves and pickpocketers. Secure all demo products and encourage all staffers to leave all valuables and cash at the hotel or in a safe.
- Leave the germophobes at the office. Having a Howie Mandel-level germophobe in your booth is one of the best ways to alienate attendees. Your potential customers don’t want to be greeted with fist pumps or watch your staffers run for the hand sanitizer after each handshake.
- Expect internet outages. If you have a demo which requires online access at all times to work then you’re in for a disappointment as the overtaxed wireless networks of many trade shows often go on the fritz. Set up your demos to be fully self-contained without internet access.
- Have fun. Your prospective customers can tell if you’re all enjoying being there or if you’re finding this a jail sentence. Lighten up and have a good time!
Now… get out there and have a great show!
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