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5 Strategy Mistakes Exhibitors Make at a Trade Show
May 19, 2014
I spent this week at TechEd, helping Netwrix drive interest in their new release of Netwrix Auditor. This being my first year not attending as a VP of Marketing, I walked the floor and couldn't help but take notice of the many things exhibitors are doing wrong on the floor.
Don't get me wrong, none of my booths in previous years were ever perfect, but we had a goal, a strategy and an execution plan.
Here are the things I saw that no good tech company should do when exhibiting:
Just putting up your logo and a tagline isn't a branding strategy - branding is more than just about the company name; it's about how you think, how you solve problems, and how you interact with your customers. The overall experience customers have in your booth is as much about brand recognition as the logo itself.
Putting only your company name up on your booth isn't an engagement strategy - I saw companies with just a backdrop with their company name (no theme, no "we do this", nothing.) Your booth messaging needs to do something to engage - tell the attendees something you do, come up with a themed booth, something. You have about 2 seconds to engage the attendee as they walk by and get their attention.
Sitting there behind the table isn't an engagement strategy either - so many companies think people will just walk up and ask "so what do you do?". While some attendees will, you're missing out on the majority that wont. Marketing is a number's game - you need to engage as many as possible to identify who is actually a prospect. If you're not a people person, hire a booth attendant who is approachable and can articulate what your company does and have them stand in the aisle. But sitting behind your table is the equivalent of being the kids that sit on the sides of the middle school dance.
Having a boring slide presentation isn't a demand gen strategy - We've all heard of "death by Powerpoint" and most booths are guilty. I saw a presentation at a booth this week that was filled, FILLED with words. Like a novel's worth (ok, ok - I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). And the presenter was not engaging, not excited, and was simply reading. You need to ensure your presentation is memorable - these attendees are going to see something like 50+ presentations while at a show. That means both your presentation and the presenter need to be impactful and effective at conveying your message quickly.
Getting lots of scans is not a lead gen strategy - I've listened to a few people telling me they think they're doing well because they have a lot of scans. Keep in mind those scans were generated mostly because you gave away a flying monkey or light-up thing-a-ma-bob and not because of genuine interest. You need to build a process in your booth that separates the Swag-hunters from those actually interested, so you can identify those leads sales should call on immediately and those that should be nurtured. Even those of you in a 10x10 booth can do this. Send me an email and I'll tell you the strategy I've honed over a 10 year period - it works, is predictable and produces three tiers of leads from least to most interested in your product(s).
The time you have to garner and keep an attendee's attention - from the time they walk by to the time they leave - is measured in minutes at best. Don't waste time, money and resources by going to a tradeshow without a real engagement, presentation and lead gen strategy.