Fall has arrived, which means conference and trade show season is hitting full swing. Perhaps your company is one of the many small businesses that will set up a booth in an exhibit hall — and you’re wondering how to get attendees to stop at yours to see what you’re all about. A simple touch is better than a heavy hand, says Linda Musgrove, president of the Florida-based training firm TradeShow Teacher (follow her on Twitter at @tsteacher). Musgrove tells clients that a few very basic pillars will hold up any successful trade-show booth. Here’s her advice:
- Know before you go. Exhibitors who clearly understand their target market — and where and how to reach it — get the highest returns on their trade-show booth investments, Musgrove says. Before you decide which conferences to attend, define your target audience, right down to the size of the companies and the job titles of your prospects. Strive to understand what makes these people “tick” and what their pain points are (so you can explain how your product will help alleviate them). Sign up for the shows that appeal to your target audience to make your attendance most effective.
- Keep messages simple. Musgrove recommends putting your logo and key messages at the top of your booth display. All words should appear in a clear, bold font that’s easy to read from 20 feet away. Express what you have to offer in terms of how your target audience can benefit from it. Ask thought-provoking questions (that you can answer) to give attendees a specific idea of what they stand to gain by visiting your booth.
- Be open and inviting. This applies not only to your conversation and behavior, but also to your booth space. Make sure your display entices people to approach you and strike up a conversation. Keep the space clean and clutter free (no cups, loose papers, or garbage). Musgrove recommends uses lighting to highlight key messages or to guide attendees to the areas you especially want them to visit in a large booth.
- Keep presentations short. Your verbal, audio, or video demonstrations should be as simple as your booth display. Demonstrate what you can do in 10 minutes or less. Do this by explaining your product’s benefits (versus its features). People want to hear how your product will help them be more successful, cut expenses, save time, and lead better lives. Save the in-depth demos for one-on-one sales calls. The main objective of your booth is to arouse people’s interest so they’ll remember you and want to learn more when they get back to the office.
- Offer a takeaway. Reward prospects for visiting your booth with a giveaway that ties in with your product or service. This will help remind people to look you up when they’re back at their desks. And don’t think your sales pitch ends when you dismantle your booth: Record your demonstrations, post them on your website, and use them with potential customers long after the trade show ends.