It’s becoming apparent in a social media-driven culture that people want to be heard. They don’t want to be talked “at” or preached to, they want to tell their story, become part of a larger conversation. What does this mean for the way you present at a trade show? Everything.
Trade shows are learning, but they have historically been loud, chaotic exhibition halls where you have to be the loudest, brightest, or gaudiest to be seen or heard. Today’s effective trade shows are registering that customers don’t always appreciate the more-is-better approach and many large scale trade shows are learning the benefits of smaller, more intimate spaces, places that don’t feel like a massive marketplace but more like a living room where real conversations can take place. If you’re stuck in the old school model of trade shows, there are still some things you can do to make customers feel like you really are concerned about their ability to voice their needs.
The layout of your booth needs to be such that customers can actually enter it and be in a semi-private area for conversation. The days of folding tables and chairs are over. Create a traffic flow pattern into and out of your booth that offers clarity of message and an intimacy for conversation. Once they’re in the booth, you’ll have plenty of opportunity for the sale, but allowing time for the customers to really engage you in what they’re looking for will win more loyalty than shoving a brochure in someone’s hand.
Listening is not something marketers of small businesses are necessarily trained to do. Their objective is to sell, but what many are learning is that sales actually increase and produce more loyalty when a true connection is forged between customer and business. The same holds true for your trade show circuit. Making a welcoming and inviting space for conversation communicates the sincerity of your purpose and your attention to your customers. Then your product or service will sell itself.