Saturday, July 21, 2007

Having an effective trade stand

I recently attended a Small Business expo, showcasing the services and products available to small business owners.

I was very interested in the diverse range of stands offering their wares. Some stands stood out from others and it was interesting reflecting on why. For exhibitors that do it well, they can expect a journey PAVED with gold!

Some stands had excellent people who were able to engage easily with visitors. They usually started with a relevant open-ended question that was easy to answer like: "What business are you in?".

Those stands that were popular had a draw card. These could be giveaways, prize draws or information packs. I believe a stand must be able to grab a visitors attention within 3 seconds. Sometimes this can be achieved by having an original or popular theme.

Successful stands gave visitors a view of what they offered and why you would deal with them. They made it easy to get information in a clear and logical space without any clutter.

Outstanding exhibitors were able to evaluate the needs and/ or wants of the visitor and recommend an acceptable solution.

Finally, the exhibitor does the deal. For some this will be getting your contact details to follow up after the show. For others it will be a commitment to an agreed action. Some will actually sell their product or service.

It's important that exhibitors and visitors think about the outcomes they are looking for before attending a show.

Exhibitors should develop a success plan that includes measure that will enable them to judge the success of their investment at the show.


Susan956 said...

Over the past decade I've gone each year to the major agricultural shows like Primex. Without a doubt those people who come to the front of their exhibition stand, have something really interesting to see (e.g. working models or cross section pieces or images of product in situ etc) and who don't badger you but who approach with a leaflet etc, do well.

I recall seeing one stand that had a great product which was a drainage pipe made from recycled materials, but that had no activity whatsoever. The two men running the stall sat right at the back never moving and the whole thing appeared boring and static. Such a shame.

I contacted the organisers one year talking about the way different people let their own sales potential down and they had perceived the same thing and had sent around recommendations for the following year.

Not everyone obtains, or can afford, prime positions so if you're in a back corner somewhere you simply "have" to sell yourself optimally. Again, such a shame when the product is worthy of more.

Tony said...

It would be interesting to rate trade show stand effectiveness & sell the information back to the stall holders with ideas of how to improve for their next event.

Could be the start of a new business?

Susan956 said...

That was my thought at the time but I found the event management a real 'blocker'. I suspect the right way to go would be to act as consultant, hired BY management to better guide traders and stall holders. It's the kind of thing I'm good at and would enjoy doing but it's knowing how to get leverage on management that's my shortfall.

If I recall correctly there was some legal issue in terms of going in as a 'freelance' or ad hoc business/consultant and approaching stall holders directly.

I had some ideas of how those pipe guys could have run a quite interesting 'front of stand' activity or two. One of the good things about a teaching background and all those years of craft activities in a rural setting is that you learn to think creatively on a low budget :)

There is of course that perfect balance in say 'one building' trade shows of how sales staff engage and yet leave you to think. I really hate being followed and badgered and yet want someone there available to answer a question if need be. There is an art to letting waiting clients know you have seen them and will attend asap - this is a shortfall in many busy trade show stalls (in my experience).

Tony said...

Sounds like a perfect background.

Most creativity seems to occur on the lowest budgets. I remember Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi saying something similar about a memorable campaign they produced on a "low" budget.

Susan956 said...

I would have missed some of the earlier articles although I have gone back and perused several from earlier in the set up. I DO recall him saying that he regarded Bob Isherwood well for having wonderful ideas that were simple or, perhaps more to the point, could be expressed simply.

I presume these days a number of expensive campaigns arise from expensive technology or, paying the the party to create the flash etc. I wish I had those skills, I could be living comfortably in these times :)