Face-to-Face Interaction at Trade Shows is More Valuable than Ever!

Posted By On Friday, October 25th, 2013

bunnycard1Your Trade Show Exhibit Booth Staff Makes It Happen.

48% of trade show attendees say that face-to-face interaction with trade show exhibitors is increasingly valuable, and 43% expect the value to continue growing.1

So it’s more important that ever to select your trade show staff strategically and train them thoroughly – and it’s essential that booth staffers represent your company and its brands professionally. The results will show up in your trade show ROI.

Before the Trade Show: Preparation Beats Winging It!

Will you select trade show staff members from within your company or will you outsource trade show staffing? It’s possible to outsource trade show staffing if your company can’t divert staff to trade show assignments or doesn’t have staff with the characteristics needed to optimize interactions with customers and prospects. It’s also possible to outsource training for in-house trade show staffers. 

But here we’re assuming your company will handle the trade show training and staffing.

Staff Selection: The First Step in Making the Most of the Face-to-Face Opportunity!

Long days? Yes, but staffing a trade show can be a chance for your staff to shine, so choose staffers who are energetic and excited about working the show, reconnecting with current customers and creating new ones, and reaping the rewards of face-to-face interaction!

  • Choose a blend of experienced staffers and newbies, and assign roles and objectives accordingly – it’s a great way to provide on-the-job training.
  • Choose staffers who know how valuable it can be to do something that seems simple – really listening to customers and prospects.

Staff Training: Ready, Set, Market!

Tradeshow-specific preparation is key – your trade show booth may be visited by industry media representatives, key opinion leaders, and competitors, in addition to customers and prospects.

Training should address these questions:

  • How will management assess results?
  • How should we attract, engage, and qualify attendees?
  • How can we disengage graciously from unproductive interactions?

Training should include:

  • Hands-on experience demonstrating products
  • Encouraging and addressing suggestions and concerns raised by staffers during the training

After training is complete, staffers should:

  • Understand their individual roles and objectives for the trade show
  • Understand the desired customer profile and your company’s Universal Lead Definition (ULD)
  • Understand the company’s strategic objectives for the trade show
  • Be able to demonstrate the company’s products or show how the company’s service work
  • Understand how to engage (and disengage) attendees at the exhibit booth

At the Trade Show: Be Ready for Anything!

The time before the exhibit hall opens is important.

  • Once your exhibit booth is set up, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
  • Ensure that electronic and other infrastructure-related systems are working properly
  • Scout out locations of services booth visitors might ask about – for example food vendors, rest rooms, and shuttle bus stops. This little “extra” can you’re your company stand out
  • Take some time to visit exhibits booths – your suppliers, competitors, and companies that provide products or services related to yours will be there. Is anyone doing something new?

Common-sense rules of professional etiquette apply.

For instance:

  • Keep a sensible after-hours schedule
  • Be prepared
  • Dress appropriately for the show
  • Wear a name tag
  • Stay focused and maintain eye contact
  • Maintain the supply of deliverables and the general order of the booth
  • Save the cell phone calls and texts for break times
  • Keep the exhibit booth up and running for the entire length of the show – no packing up or breaking down exhibits early

After the Trade Show: It’s Not Over Yet!

There’s lots of follow-up after a trade show, but it shouldn’t be limited to pursuing leads. Staffers have returned to the office with a wealth of knowledge, so hold a debriefing session as soon as possible where staffers can share their experiences and discuss how what they’ve learned can make the next trade show even better.

What worked? What didn’t work? Did anything unexpected happen? If so, how was it handled? Were demos and deliverables well received? Are there any additional tools that might have been useful? How can overall trade show planning and staff selection and training be improved? Should the company invest in the same show again? If so, is there anything the company should do differently?

1Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), Change in Value over Next Two Years and Effects of the Great Recession and Online Media, 2012, www.ceir.org.

Other sources:

Leave us a comment to let us know how your company engages the trade show staff in post-tradeshow evaluation activities.

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