For some attendees, the goal of attending is to walk through the many vendor booths, seeing how many giveaway items they can stuff into their bag. Can you actually reach those people with any meaningful information?
For some sales people, babysitting a booth at a trade show, job fair, or some similar event is not an interesting proposition. In some companies, that job is relegated to the newbie as an initiation or trial by fire. It is unfortunate that some events are viewed that way, because they can be a great place to take advantage of the face-to-face opportunities for marketing and selling.
For some attendees, it seems the goal of attending is to walk through the many vendor booths, seeing how many giveaway items they can stuff into their bag. They rarely, if ever stop and ask for information about a product or service. How can this situation be turned into something positive? Can you reach those people with any meaningful information? Probably not. But among those bag fillers are people who are actively searching for information. They are your holy grail... the needles in the haystack.
Realizing situations exist where an unmotivated salesperson meets an uninterested attendee doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons some businesses have a presence as trade shows is to be recognized and represented among industry competitors, and that is definitely a reason worth considering. At events without much industry competition, the same recognition and representation will serve you well, and even help you stand out.
A few universal pieces of advice will work in any situation where your sales people are in a defined space and depending on prospects to approach them. (This presumes you do not have a sales person who is behaving like a carnival barker outside the defined boundaries.)
- Make sure that your business name, logo, and what service or product or industry you represent is the tallest point in the booth and large enough to to be read from a minimum of 8’ feet away.
That means that a booth backdrop, banners, or festival tent will have your name, logo, and tagline description over the heads of most people. For those who only have a table, make sure you have a table-top poster display with this information on it. This allows adults who are walking by to see your most important information over everyone’s head. The elevated position also allows those who are in scooters or wheelchairs to also have a better chance of seeing your information.
Name recognition or name introduction at an event or festival is always a good thing, even if it’s only a passing glance. Not only does it register your presence among your competitors, but it is one more way to put your business into the minds of prospects. Your logo graphic will be remembered even more than your name, so including it is important as well.
- Whenever possible, have a monitor showing a short (one- to two-minute) video of your product or service. Be sure that the video is captioned and not dependent on narration or music. Events can be loud, so it’s hard to hear anyway. Additionally, you’re being a better “booth neighbor” if you do not have the audio on a continuous loop, thereby irritating nearby people and contributing to the noise level.
In smaller booths with a back wall, make sure that the video presentation is up front and on the opposite side of where your sales person normally stands. In larger, open booths, having one or two videos on the periphery will serve the same purpose. This will make the viewer feel more comfortable taking the time to watch, feeling they will not be approached with a hard sell. If the sales person sees a person come to the end of the video, make sure to have them make eye contact and ask something like, “Is there anything you saw in the video that interested you?” This is a simple yes or no question that allows the viewer to step into further engagement or to exit easily.
- Have an inexpensive giveaway that is no great loss if it never results in a sale. For example, have pens or key chains or some other items with your name and contact information on them. Items like these are expected, but you can make them more valuable by attaching them to cards which offer a discount and a "trade up" gift for their next purchase. The plain giveaway is only nominally effective whereas the tangible discount PLUS trade up item is enough to encourage a percentage of attendees to consider trying out your product or service.
- Whatever information you have to provide to attendees, make sure it is well designed and gives your material a good chance of standing out. What are ways to stand out? Thicker paper than usual, unusual sizes, materials that feel different than regular paper, assembled in distinctly colored folders or envelopes, hot waxing a 3D product to it, or any other creative way that will set your information apart from a pile of other information.
Also, it seems that displaying materials upright, rather than placing them flat on a table makes them more likely to be taken. Who knows why? :)
- Even if your salesperson is not gregarious or particularly good at event selling, it is absolutely essential that they be able to answer most questions people might ask. And if they don’t know the answer, politeness and a willingness to follow up goes a long way toward leaving a good impression.
While these suggestions provide no excuses for tolerating an unengaged employee at an event, your business can help offset that liability by making their environment function to serve your marketing efforts in spite of them. And for businesses fortunate to have good sales people, consider them icing on the cake, and your event marketing will reap a great return on investment.