See Your Trade Shows with Fresh Eyes Again

April 17, 2012

The busy season is over and you’ve just exhibited at the same trade shows that you always exhibit at year after year.  Which can make you too easily fall into the “same old, same-old” mindset: Same competitors, same booth staff, same exhibit, same promotions, same city, same products, same, same, same.

Be careful. That complacency can dangerously slip into irrelevancy.

To keep your edge, try to see trade shows with fresh eyes. Give yourself some time at your next few shows to get re-inspired.  All you need is your eyes, your feet, and an open mind.

Question everything

When you next walk your show, give yourself permission to question everything.  Put your curiosity on steroids and let it run off the leash. As you walk down the aisles, ask yourself these key questions – and don’t stop walking until you’ve witnessed the answers for yourself:

  • What trade show booths are getting more traffic?  And why?
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  • Which booths seem to not only attract visitors, but put them at ease to the point they look like they don’t want to leave?
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  • Look for booth staffers and visitors truly engaged in meaningful conversations — what did they do to get there?
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  • What at-show activities are generating a crowd, and keeping the right people in the booth?
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  • What new trade show exhibit designs are you seeing that are catching your eye (and getting more attendees)? Is it their messaging, shape, color, products, or something else?
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  • How are booth staffers dressing, more relaxed or more formally?
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  • Where in the show hall are the hot spots of traffic — and did that change during the day?
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  • Follow some attendees (at a discreet distance!) and watch what catches their eye, and what they blow right past.

Gain crucial booth staffer insights

I walked a show last week with many of these questions in mind. Within an hour the difference between good and bad booth staffers was visible; in two hours it was obvious; and by the end of the day it was astonishingly appalling. Some booth staffers were great and others had me shaking my head asking, who would wreck their entire trade show program by bringing these horrible staffers?

Try it yourself: walk your trade show and see who does a good job engaging you, and who ignores you — even when you walk into their booth!  Who pays attention to all attendees as they walk by, and who is on the phone, even when you reach for a business card on their table? Who is friendly even at the end of the show, and who looks like they need a trip to the spa? Who offers a friendly engaging question and turns it into a meaningful conversation, and who says “Hi,” and then shuts up?  By the end of this walk you will have a burning desire to put far greater emphasis on the choosing and training of your booth staff.

You may also notice, depending on the industry your show is in, how incredibly valuable a simple, yet clear product demo is, in stopping and keeping interested booth visitors.

And what else will you find? That’s up to you to find out; when you get re-inspired with the fresh set of eyes you’ll get after your walk around your next trade show. You’ll come away with an overflowing list of new things you want to try next year. And that sure beats the same old thing any day!

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