That’ll Never Work!
Screenwriter William Goldman is probably more famous for a throwaway comment than for any of his fine work for Hollywood. The comment? “Nobody knows anything.”
Admittedly he was speaking specifically about Hollywood, but the same saying could be apppled to almost any industry – including the exhibition business.
So my assertion is that nobody can say what will definitely work on your stand and what won’t. What we can say is that some things very probably will not work and some probably will.
For example: prize draws, serving coffee/drinks, giveaways, tables/chairs/settees and your top salespeople, very probably will not work.
Whereas: a definite target, an intriguing strap line, a planned process for dealing with visitors, no literature and daily debriefs, probably will work.
Let’s look more closely at some of these ideas:
Prize draws. You’ve no doubt seen these. A goldfish bowl or similar container stands proudly near the front of the stand. Next to it are the words, “Drop your business in here for a chance to win a bottle of champagne/iPad/MP3 player/golf lesson. So what happens? A lot of people like me (people who have no interest in your products or services) drop their business cards in in the hope of winning the prize. You take these ‘leads’ back to the office and divide them up among your sales team. Those with experience drop them straight in the bin. Those wothout spend frustrating hours trying to sell to a bunch of non-prospects. You assess the results of the show and conclude that exhibitions do not work.
Salespeople. Your top salesperson is a disaster at a trade show. Why? Because (s)he knows too much about your products or services and (s)he is too eager to talk about them. Sure, there may be a few sales made – but how many hot prospects have strolled by while your team is busy talking? The essence of a trade show is to get as many qualified leads as possible, and to clinch the sales later.
No literature. Give a prospect your literature and you reduce the chances of a successful follow-up call dramatically. The prospect now thinks they have all the information they need. A few days after the show, you call to be told, “I’ve got your literature; I’ll call you if I need anything.” CLICK. Or, worse, “I haven’t had time to read your literature yet, give me a call in a couple of weeks.” Two weeks later, you call to hear, “Who? What show?”
And so it goes on. I can justify all my points – and may well do so in future articles. Meantime, my advice is not to do what everyone else is doing; mostly they are doing it wrong! Think about what you would like to experience when you go to an exhibition – and give your visitors that!