Tips for a successful vendor show or expo

Booth Décor

The purpose is to impress and inform the consumer in 3-5 seconds. Imagine that you are in front of those who cannot hear. What conclusions would be drawn from viewing your booth? Many times I walk by a booth and cannot tell what is being sold. The focus should be upon the product, not the display pieces. The display is best aligned directly with the company and should draw people in. It’s best to always use company branded colors. Please do not enclose the product, this detracts from the experience and presents a very discouraging impression to the customer. Our goal is to engage and encourage our customer step into our booth and experience what we have to offer.

 

  1. Backdrop – If you do not do something to the backdrop provided, your background will look like everyone else’s. You want it to pop, but also flow with the theme and color scheme of your booth. Purchase a piece of fabric the height of the curtain (8 feet) and the width of your booth. Punch holes in the fabric and use an “S” hooks to hang your fabric on top of the curtain – much like how a shower curtain is hung. It could be pulled straight or gathered. To hide raw edges and the “S” hooks, a garland of ivy or flowers works well or another piece of fabric gathered and tied to the cross bar with florist wire. Another option is utilizing banners on stands or a banner strung from the back of your tent, should you be outdoors.
  2. Table Coverings – Be sure your table cloth maintains the company branded color. It’s best to use cloth with finished edges, not plastic or a bed sheet, should you be unable to purchase a branded table cloth for any reason.  Be sure your display is free of excess marketing items or display pieces.
  3. Table Displays – Be aware that every item on the table will be hidden once a crowd is in front of your booth; AND branding draws in a crowd! Tables work better when placed at the back or the sides of the booth. To elevate your product, you can place small boxes or bricks under the tablecloths to create different heights to please the eye. You can also use riser boxes in coordinating colors on the tablecloth for additional height.
  4. Props – Enhance your products with things women like to look at – a ficus tree, flowers, plants, candles, fabric, and furniture. A good example of this was a cosmetic booth that brought in items from a ladies’ vanity, such as an antique hand mirror, jewelry box, string of pearls, etc. There were lots of little items for the customers to view that drew them into the booth. Another great booth had an Oriental rug, fake fireplace front, antique chair and table – the inviting, warm setting pulled everyone in to hear about the new nail salon in town!
  5. Crowd Pleasers – Color, energy, drawings or raffles. Movement is always key such as videos or demonstrations..
  6. Signage – This is probably the most important element of a booth. If I asked you to name me three things that makes your company different from others like yours and it was the only thing you could say to the customer, this should be listed on a poster or sign prominently displayed in the booth. For example “What’s your story” or “Every locket tells a story” Don’t rely on your brochures and handouts because the customers will not sit and read these until they get home and you want them to ask you questions while they are in front of your booth. You want to engage and build report. Sometimes your best points can be phrased in the form of a question. View the customer as one who needs to be educated because she has never seen the product before. Most customers don’t know what they want or need. They need to be taught the difference in each company.
  7. Booth Space – No vendor has ever said they had too much space, but rather how they can get more. To free up floor space, you might want to utilize vertical shelving such as a bookcase or baker’s rack. Decorate with boxes, catalogs or even display pieces. This will also serve to elevate your product that can be seen over the heads of the crowd.

Working The Crowd

  1. Your Image – You get one chance to make a first impression and the only thing a customer may know about your company is what they see at the show. Never sit in your booth. There will be time to rest during the show and during lunch. Sitting implies that you don’t really want to talk to them and it implies that no one really wants to talk to you. Standing implies that you are ready and willing to serve them and answer their questions. Always be or have someone in front of the table to help draw customers.
  2. Number of Consultants – Several consultants in the booth give the impression that your company is bigger and more successful – even though they could be friends and family helping you. But be sure you don’t have too many in your booth that it covers up your display and there’s now no room to get into your booth, which by the way is your goal. Ideally, it takes at least two people to work a booth, sometimes more depending on the venue. One person’s full time job is to stand in the booth with brochures in hand and every customer that passes hears from you, “Good Morning, let me give you information on XYZ Company” or, “Welcome, have you SEEN a living locket?”   As the customer passes, place your Catalog or Rack Card in her hand. No one will refuse it. But if you lay your brochures on a table, some will feel intimidated about fighting their way to it and they may prejudge that they aren’t interested. Assume they are interested. The other person’s job is to be ready to answer questions and give expert information about the company.
  3. Never Leave Your Booth Unattended – The worst thing that can happen is for a customer to go to a booth and no one is there. The implication is that she is not important and if the company cannot service her at a trade show, how will they service her after they get her money. The customer will view your company as unprofessional. Even when the crowd thins during the show, many view this as a time to revisit booths because the aisles are not crowded and they can spend more time with a vendor. The three most important things: QUALITY, SERVICE AND CONVENIENCE

After The Show

Here is where the key to your success lies.

  1. Mailing Follow-up – Marketing experts agree that a consumer must see your name three times for it to register. Your first introduction was at the show. The second is by mail. What seems to be working with the present day consumer is POSTCARDS. No one can resist quickly reading a postcard, but many will not open an envelope if it looks like an advertisement. The front should have a color, glossy picture that explains your business. The back should include two very important items – an incentive and a deadline. It should be worded something like, “If you make a purchase or book us by such and such a date, you will receive such and such.” Your postcard now becomes a dated gift certificate. Experts say a consumer realizes that if she makes a decision in your favor by a certain date, she will receive some sort of deal. She will hang onto this card and look at it every day until the deadline. You will stagger your mailings each month with different deadline dates for when she should be thinking about your type of business. ie Mother’s Day, Christmas etc.
  2. Phone Call Follow-ups – Here is where your third contact comes in. I know this can be time consuming and you may be uncomfortable with the phone. Remember, the phone is your friend! This is one of the most productive sales techniques. THIS IS NOT COLD CALLING. These customers willingly sought you out at the show, willingly provided their phone number. This is a follow-up and you will accomplish several things by making the call. First, when you get the customer on the phone, you may find out she never even saw your catalog or she wanted to chat and didn’t have the opportunity. If you mailed something, you may find out she still lives with roommates and your card was tossed out. We never know what someone else’s circumstances are. Now is your chance to explain the incentive program, offer her your available dates to host or even explain the business. Ask open-ended questions to engage her. You may not have a sale or a booking right then, but that doesn’t mean not ever.   End the call with, “Mary, can I ask your advice on something? I am working on a marketing strategy for my business. What could I have said, done or offered you where you would have wanted book with me?” (You can adjust this question to match the situation)   Whatever “Mary” says is worth its weight in gold, everyone has an opinion and this is a great resource for you and your business. Wouldn’t you rather have better tools than scratch your head and wonder why a customer didn’t buy from you, book with you etc? Marketing firms are hired every day to extract such information from people. The information you obtain from the customer will probably cause you to change your verbiage or the way you are otherwise presenting you company. For example, when a hotel builds in an inconvenient, out of the way location, what is the first thing they offer in their advertisements? Free Shuttle Service! They have determined the objection and overcame it. Your responsibility is to build a relationship of trust by meeting the customers needs. The solution is not to keep seeing multitudes of customers, but closing more deals from the customers you see and building a solid customer base.

 

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