February 25, 2011

1-2-3 of Exhibiting

Our exhibiting season starts on Tuesday with TFM&A and CeBIT. We are excited about it (like every year) and look forward to connect with hundreds of existing clients and prospects from around the world in more than a dozen shows.

So, here are some basics that we follow. Our fellow exhibitors can also benefit from it ;) I call it the "1-2-3 of exhibiting"

Before I talk about the "1-2-3 of exhibiting", a word of caution – Do not exhibit to satisfy your ego. Do not remain self obsessed. You go to a trade show to connect and communicate with your audience. If you fail to do this, the entire exercise and investment is futile.

1) Connect in less than 2 seconds

When a person walks past your stand, you only have 2 seconds to grab his attention (many a times that too in a subconscious state). You got to connect with him within those 2 seconds. Therefore your elevator pitch must be prominent, loud, attention grabbing and clear. That should qualify your visitor and bring him to your stand.

Avoid connecting with visitors who do not qualify. You can only attend 40-60 visitors in a day (if you are a two member team manning the stand at all times). So why waste time on visitors who do not need your service.

2) Knowledgeable communication

It is so frustrating to go to a stand and find that the person manning the stand has very little or no idea about the product or service that they are promoting. The team on the stand must be knowledgeable, passionate and alert. They must know the subject well.

If the stand is manned for the purpose of collecting visiting cards (with a promise to get back later), trust me, it is a waste of time and money. Manning a booth with the right sort of people is not easy, as it needs people from the senior management layer of the organization, who are knowledgeable about the offering, and can answer the queries with confidence.

It is equally important to be compassionate during interaction on your stand. It is so common to find exhibitors to behave uber cool, uninterested and sometimes outright rude. Value these interactions and consider them a vital PR activity. After all, each interaction will build or spoil the image of the company in long term.

3) Getting back in context

It is very rare to see companies getting back (in context) after the show. Some companies just feed the visiting cards into a marketing system which sends out email and mailshots at regular intervals. However, these templated follow-ups are no where close to the discussion that took place on the stand.

Proper notes must be taken during discussion on the stand, and the follow up shall highlight those points (to bring the discussion in context) along with complete set of documents, information, price chart as requested by the prospect.

If you do not get back to them, or get back to them very late, you have lost them!

So, the 1-2-3 of exhibiting is -
"Connect in 2 seconds – Have knowledgeable discussion – Follow up in context"

Happy exhibiting ;)

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