Last month I was in your booth, and this is what I learned about you…
Last month I had the opportunity to attend a trade show and experience the event from the attendee point of view.
If you have not been an attendee for a while. I highly recommend it!
I went into the event with a specific mission of shopping for 3 services, while paying special attention to what exhibitors do wrong, and what they do right. Here were my results:
1) What did exhibitors do to attract me into their booth?
- Wrong: More than half of the exhibitors did not acknowledge me. Not even a friendly smile! I was surprised how many were busy talking to each other, eating, drinking, or looking at their phones. Over half of them missed the chance to meet me… a potential buyer or partner. It made me wonder why they were exhibiting at all.
- Right: The best exhibitors had their eyes on the aisle and smiled or engaged me with a hello or a simple question that piqued my curiosity. They made me feel welcomed and expressed genuine interest in who I was. Some offered me a tasty treat or beverage which I found kept me there a little longer. Their booth was attractive, and I have to admit that I Ioved the booths that had thick carpet padding… I didn’t mind staying a little longer to give my feet a rest.
2) How did they qualify or disqualify me?
- Wrong: Some exhibitors made the poor choice of “assuming” too much about who I was and what I may or may not be interested in. Some spoke more about themselves and what they were selling than finding out what I was looking for. Others were so busy promoting their game or contest, they lost sight for why they exhibit… to help me!
- Right: The best exhibitors knew how to ask me questions that quickly identified if we were a match and how we might work together. They also took the time to identify one or two of my key objectives (or pain points) and offered me information related to my needs.
3) What kind of impression did they leave on me?
- Wrong: I have to say that at least 25% of the exhibitors I visited left no memorable impression on me, which is sad.
- Right: Smart exhibitors made sure I was left with a memorable impression, regardless of whether I was a qualified buyer, of who they are, and why I would want to do business with them or recommend others to them. Smart exhibitors were fun & smart, and had me leaving with something to talk about. They were the buzz on the show floor. Those that had a game, contest, or give-away were also able to make them memorable and relatable to their brand. A few had me telling all my friends about them!
4) How did they close or exit our encounter?
- Wrong: Some never even scanned my badge or provided any information to walk away with. They just moved on to the next person, and I would wander off.
- Right: The exhibitors I remember most made me feel important and gave me their full attention. They would recap my needs, take notes and scan my badge.
Some introduced me to a client who happened to be in the booth who gave me their testimony about how great they were to work with. One even introduced me to the President of their company! A few scheduled a follow up so I could enjoy the rest of the show and not forget about them. The best left me with some kind of gift and their card, and made sure I was entered in their VIP contest before I left. I’m guessing they entered me in the VIP contest because I was identified as a qualified buyer.
5) How did they follow up after I left their booth?
- Wrong: Out of 41+ companies I met with, 18 of them did nothing to follow up. Absolutely nothing. I had been forgotten about… and so I imagine I will forget about them.
- Right: The other 23 had a wide variety of follow up. Some sent me an email the same day, which was fantastic! I felt important and immediately connected with them. Others followed up within 2-3 business days, which was fine too.
Even if they knew I was not a prospect, I appreciated the follow up and I will remember them for it. It set the tone for what kind of company they were, which was good. I was also impressed when the follow up was personalized and included relevant information for me to review. It told me that they were listening and could help me. The ones that really impressed me most not only sent me a follow up email, but called me or scheduled a meeting to continue the conversation. Two also sent me a note in the mail, which was amazing!
These are the ones who made my shortlist. They made me feel like a VIP, and I was excited to do business with them.
- Which companies were attractive and made me feel welcome
- Which companies understood my needs and made me feel important
- Which ones are worthy of doing business with
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