There is no end to the preparations you can make for creating a winning trade show exhibit. But what really makes your trade show strategy work?
A quick Google search (or a search right here through our vast library of previous blog entries) will provide dozens and dozens of articles telling you what you should do, or need to do, to ensure your trade show preparations pay off.
This article will focus on just four things that can make a big difference in the results you get on the trade show floor. I’m not suggesting you don’t do other things to prepare. There are lots of other things you will definitely need to do.
However, our opinion is that if you don’t get these four things right, whatever else you do isn’t going to get you the results you want.
So what really makes your trade show strategy work?
1. Which of your product’s features and benefits do you want booth visitors to know about?
You’ll probably end up with a long list, and you’ll have to trim it down. You need to deal with the realities of time available for product demos, space in the booth for the products and their related graphics, and other variables.
Focus on the top 3-5 points you want to communicate, then follow what’s known as the Adult Learning Model for sharing information:
- Tell Them What You’re Going To Tell Them
- Tell Them
- Tell Them What You Told Them.
There are different avenues for getting that information about features and benefits across to booth visitors. Booth staffers can share some information as they interact with attendees. Additional information can be carried by signage and graphics in the trade show exhibit. Some data can also be part of your product demo.
You probably know how to share the “So” part of your product information: the facts and features (“so that means you can do x and y.”)
But you also need to share the “So What?” part. What’s that, you ask? It’s your prospect’s first reaction to the information you share. In other words, your prospect is asking, “What’s in it for me?”
You need to be able to translate those facts and features into the value and benefits they offer customers. (“By doing x and y, our machine lets you create more widgets faster than with any other machine on the market.”)
2. Why should customers buy from you?
It can be tough to ask yourself this question. Maybe you’re not the low price leader in your industry. Maybe your product has drawbacks. Maybe your customer service isn’t as good as the competition’s. Your trade show strategy must address this question – why should anyone buy from you?
Your answer will shine a spotlight on the biggest benefits of your product or service and the way you do business. Perhaps your prices are higher because you provide a better guarantee than the competition.
The drawback in your product may only be an issue for a small subset of your customers who do something specific with your product. It’s a non-issue for other customers.
It may be that you don’t focus as much on customer service because your company deals in volume sales.
Make sure everyone (and I mean everyone) staffing your display knows what separates you from the competition, and how to communicate that.
3. What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?
Answer this, and you’ll know what you’re up against. You may be doing business in a climate where the competition seems to have all the advantages: better product, better pricing, better customer service. If so, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
One way to compete is to focus on a known strength in your product versus a known weakness in your competitor’s: “Yes, ABC Widgets does price its product lower than ours. But our widget maker makes widgets twice as fast as their machine. That initial price difference vanishes when you see how much more quickly our ‘Widget Maker 1000’ pumps out widgets.”
4. What are your goals and objectives?
If you go into a trade show without both short term and long term goals, you’ll get less than ideal results. You may think that selling 50 Widget Maker 1000’s is an admirable goal. But that only pertains to prospects that are ready to buy.
There’s also a huge audience that’s not yet ready to make a purchase, but may move into that position in 3-6 months.
What are you going to do about them? What really makes your trade show strategy work?
What can you do at this show that won’t just benefit buyers, but will also help your company nurture prospects who aren’t ready to buy, but may be soon?
How do you deal with those who have an interest, but don’t yet have a budget?
Don’t cede these down-the-road prospects to your competitors by ignoring them. Ask yourself how this show fits into your overall trade show strategy.
Have a plan in place that deals with every type of prospect you may come into contact with at this (and other) show(s). Knowing your overall objectives helps you get the most out of each show, while still focusing on the bottom line.
Nothing helps you pull off a successful show more than having a solid partner working with you each step of the way.
Whether you need simple graphics changes from show to show, or a last minute “save-the-day” rescue, we’ve done that—and everything in between. And we continue to focus on helping our customers succeed. Let us show you what a difference that can make. Call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected]