A couple of weeks ago, Epic was an industry speaker at the B2B Marketing Expo in Los Angeles.
Over a two day period we met a few thousand people and had meaningful conversations with a few hundred. As a result, we came back with enough leads to keep us busy through our 4th quarter. These leads didn’t just fall into our lap, we had to work for them. Everyone works differently – but engaging on all levels is the #1 key to trade show success. In addition to this prime take-away, I’ve compiled a short list to help you make your next trade show a successful one!
You Get What You Put Out
This is a simple concept, but widely ignored.
For instance, we went to a vendor mixer near Hollywood at the end of the first night. The mood was largely upbeat but there were pockets of darkness and dejection – in one of the most liveliest cities in the nation! I’m a natural extrovert and find it easy to gravitate to these spots to find out “What’s up”. In speaking with several of these people I found them feeling like they wasted a lot of time and money for not a lot of traffic. Now, first-day traffic was reportedly close to 5k. That might be a little optimistic. It felt more like 2.5k – still a very healthy turnout for a Wednesday. I was talking to one of the trade show hosts James about some of these people’s thoughts. We came to the same conclusion. You get out what you put out.
James and I theorized that the same people that were feeling lost or dejected at this show were the people we’ve all seen at trade shows:
- Sitting bored at their booth, staring into the black hole of their phone.
- Avoiding direct eye contact with passerby’s.
- Looking generally bored and uninterested.
- Little interaction with the other vendors or even attending their talks.
This is totally the wrong approach. Don’t laugh!! You may be one of them and not even realize it. Are you connecting with your audience? I say the audience because that’s what a trade show is, your audience. If you’re not interested in being there, it shows on every level of your communication and body language. Here’s a practical list that you can use when you or your team hit the trade show floor – and yes, these seem almost too simple, but sometimes that’s the best approach.
8 Simple Tips
- Start your day off early. Go for a walk, a run or a workout. Something that can make you sweat. Get your blood pumping. Flush out all those bad vibes and put yourself in a jacked-up and positive frame of mind.
- Eat a light breakfast. Protein bars and coffee or water. Being carb-tired or worse, gassy, isn’t the best way to meet potential new clients.
- Arrive early and bring water, protein bars, battery backup fro your cell/laptop/tablet.
- Bring pens, small candy, and a bowl to put the candy in for your patrons.
- Mints! Bring Breath Mints!
- STAND UP & SMILE! This is your time to shine! Do not slouch! Engage every single face and LISTEN to each person as they talk to you. Treat them like they are the only person in the room. At that moment when they interact with you. Your focus should be directly and intensely on them.
- HAVE FUN! This doesn’t have to be brutal. Interact with the other vendors., watch their speeches or pitches. Overall, enjoy your moments. Make friends, after all, we can all use more friends.
- Take pictures with the people stopping by your booth if you can. This will help you remember them and you’ll be making a memory with them. Additionally, these pictures make great social media and website content for you and your company – your marketing department will love you!
A few tips for after the show:
- Organize all of the leads you gathered at the show. This could be business cards, manual or even electronic notes. Enter these directly into your CRM system – always use your CRM, gone are the days of flat spreadsheets.
- If you don’t have a CRM system, build a google sheet or spreadsheet and line out every customer/vendor/influencer.
- After importing or entering the lead information including email and website, perform a quick search in LinkedIn and add that detail to your base CRM lead record.
- Make contact with the people that you met, even if that is via LinkedIn and better yet, layer on a marketing email thanking them for their time. This is an easy task with your CRM/Email automation tool.
- As a bonus – include pictures of the show. Now you have a great conversation starter. Your goal is to get this all done within a week of the show. Speed and organization are your friends.
In closing, take stock in how you did personally. Did you have a good elevator pitch? Were you engaged at the moment or detached and thinking about your husband, wife or dog? Be real with yourself and don’t beat yourself up. You will get better the more you step out of your digital zone and engage when you can – even locally! You don’t have to wait for an out of town show to interact with your work community. Get out there, engage, even use a site like “Meet Up”, widen your work-circle and you may even find you’re quite good at making new friends and influencing people. After all, that’s what trade shows are all about!
See you at the next show!