How do you get potential customers and contacts into your trade show booth? Look around at a trade exhibition, and you’ll see lots of examples of how other small businesses tackle this question. You’ll see flashing lights, techno-music, cheap giveaways, scantily-clad women, even entertainment for kids. Are any of these approaches used by successful, serious businesses interested in long-term customer relationships?
Trade show booths are a lot like dating. They give you an idea, a peek, at what you might be in for in a relationship. What do you want your business to reveal? Cheap? Gimmick-driven? Appealing to the lowest common denominator? Or classy, focused, and professional?
Like dating, your business has one chance to make a good first impression. So make it. Like a nicely tailored suit, the lines of your trade show booth should be clean, elegant, and communicate an investment in your product. Flashy doesn’t go far in communicating seriousness of purpose, so keep your company logo colors in play with understated lighting, and continuity across the products and display. A busy appearance says you’re just grabbing for anything that will stick. Know your business, know how to communicate your product, and your integrity will bring customers to the booth.
Now, just who is doing the communicating? An entry-level employee with little or no trade show experience? What does that communicate? Unfortunately, it says you’re not interested in a true investment in your booth or the industry. Your booth should always be staffed with experienced, knowledgable, confident, and outgoing employees who believe in your business. Trainees are great to bring along, but you need the seasoned trade show worker to lead the way. Customers and industry contacts are drawn to people with confidence, people they sense they can trust. Exuding integrity and industry knowledge will attract more customers than flashlights or free popcorn.
The trade show booth and the booth staff are the keys to drawing customers in and getting the product or service out. Take them both seriously, invest in their development, and watch the quality of your contacts and customers shoot through the roof.