Tricks of the Trade Show: Engagement

February 14, 2014

For any trade show to truly deliver value, participating brands must focus on not solely themselves, but the people standing in front of their booths. Audience engagement is a necessity during these events.

If representatives come off as just a corporate head, instead of someone who is truly trying to help prospective customers address their needs, then establishing a long-lasting relationship is made that much more difficult.

Speaking with Great Falls Tribune, Michael French, a financial adviser with Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors, said trade shows are effective, but long, placing even greater emphasis on engagement throughout the entire event.

“You need to smile and make eye contact. I don’t bring a computer and I stay off my phone while I’m in the booth. You need to talk to people as they go by. If you are not doing that, it’s just a waste of time and money to be here,” French told the news source.

If employees are expected to be on their feet for the entire duration of a trade show, brands may want to do a little more to make sure participants are more comfortable. French said that rather than subject himself to standing on hard concrete, he brought a padded rug to a show, which “made a big difference.”

Perhaps the most important point highlighted by French’s interview with Great Falls Tribune was the fact that he does not attend trade shows to boost sales right then and there. This a problem some brands can experience if they push too hard to sell their products and services to everyone who walks by their booth.

“For us it’s about making new contacts and seeing if it will be a fit for us to work together,” he told the news provider. “I wouldn’t say I’ve gained a lot of new clients who I have met at trade shows, but it’s more than I would if I had spent the weekend at home.”

Employee ‘freshness’ crucial for trade shows

If employees are heading into a trade show dreading the experience, they are not likely to put forth their best effort to represent the brand like the company expects. Businesses should gauge interest among staff members to determine who really wants to participate in these events. If that still does not work, what else can companies try?

Trade Show News Network’s Alex Stowell recently suggested that organizations to have upper-level management get involved with sparking some competition among personnel for upcoming events. For example, managers can offer staff members incentives, reward programs and contests for those participating in a show to boost productivity.

Firms should also be aware that a trade show is a long day, so only having two people at the booth for hours and hours is a draining experience. Stowell encouraged businesses to have other staff members at the event to give people a breather. This approach will ensure that everyone is fresh and it will benefit engagement levels as well.

Brands should also ask team members for insight into what they can do to make a trade show a more engaging experience.

“Get your team involved in all of it – set expectations together, ask for ideas, or what specifically will keep them motivated throughout the day,” Stowell suggested. “This will also help promote creative thinking and foster teamwork. Leverage the collective thoughts of your people to create greatness!”

Trade shows should not be the bane of employees’ existence, but an opportunity to showcase their skills and connect with prospective customers and industry professionals. Fresh and happy workers are engaged workers.

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