With PRSA International Conference just around the corner, chances are you have invested a lot of time and money by purchasing booth space and sending the team to Indianapolis, and are now putting the finishing touches on getting ready to represent your company at this event.
It’s one thing to head out with a pull-up banner and a couple of representatives from your sales team, but another thing completely if you really want to ensure that you and the conference attendees get the best possible experience when stopping by your exhibitor booth. No one benefits when you go about this half-heartedly. Take some time, plan it properly, and everyone wins.
Here are nine tips on getting the most out of your exhibitor experience.
Engage with attendees
The exhibitor area of any conference can become mayhem when attendees are out on breaks in between sessions and the sheer number of people walking by your booth becomes chaotic. But this is the best time to grab their attention and invite them into your booth space. Acknowledging their approach with a nod or a smile is obvious but not everyone makes the effort. Don’t be sitting in chair on your laptop or texting on your phone during this key opportunity to engage your audience. Even if you are chatting with someone else, take a moment to make eye contact with a new prospect and let them know you will be right with them. Giving the impression that you don’t care will surely drive them on to the next booth—your competitor!
Don’t start with your sales pitch. Instead, take some time to get to know the customer, their needs, and why they’ve stopped at your booth in the first place. Being too aggressive with your approach can scare them away, so ensure you listen first and talk later.
Ensure you are properly staffed
Not having enough staff on-site is a recipe for disaster. Understandably, sending your team to an out-of-town conference is costly, but if you are prepared to go, then make sure you do it right. Determine your budget and send the maximum staff it allows. The last thing you want is to have one or two members of your sales team unable to handle the interest in your product or service. If attendees are shopping for a service similar to that which your firm provides, chances are there are other exhibitors who offer the same and have people available to respond to questions.
Business cards & promotional items
Keep in mind that attendees are being inundated with information while at a conference. Days are long and everyone leaves exhausted. You need to ensure that the time you took to chat with someone about your company is remembered. Having a business card is a no-brainer; everyone should have a big stack on hand.
Swag is a great way to bring people to your booth, especially if you have something fun or useful. When planning your purchase, remember, these items have to be shipped to and possibly from if you have leftovers. Not everyone will pick up an item so no need to bring thousands of promo items that you will have to ship back home. Find a small item that can be packed easily, and if you run out, then so be it!
While the smaller promo items are good to pass out, a bigger ticket item is a great way to gather attendee information for further follow-up. Have a simple business card draw with prize offerings such as a new technology item like the latest iPad or iPhone. If your business has a new product or service, offer a free subscription so that once they have tried it, they become hooked, and bang! you have a new customer.
You can really have some fun and get people engaged with silly games or a photo booth that spits out branded conference pics.
Keep it short and sweet
During peak hours, attendees are running from one session to another so there is not always the optimal amount of time to perform your perfect sales spiel. Preparing your “elevator pitch” in advance will ensure you get your message across without taking up too much of your guests’ time. Recognize body language and notice when they have had enough and need to move on. Chances are those people are not really interested in your product or service so don’t waste too much time when you could be chatting with those who are legitimately interested in what you have to sell.
Signage should be clear and concise
If your brand is well established, then chances are most attendees will know who you are and what you do. But if you are not well known, make sure your booth signage reflects a clear and concise message. This will save you a lot of time in weeding out potential customers, as only those interested in what you have to offer will stop by to gather more information.
Dress for success
If you are stuck in a large convention hall all day, it may turn out that the temperature is either too hot or too cold. Make sure you have the proper attire so you not only look clean and professional but that you are prepared for all conditions. Wearing heels might look best but if you are on your feet all day, and you will be, this can cause extreme discomfort and will only take your mind off your guests and put it on your aching feet.
Performing demos on site—do you have proper seating?
Generally, these convention halls are massive, and getting from the speaker sessions to the exhibitor area and back can be tiring. If you want to pull people into your booth and present them with a short demonstration of your product or service, it can be a good idea, if you have the space, to provide them with a place to sit so they can relax and really listen to what you have to say.
But remember, a best practice when you have a booth is to keep it open and inviting. Don’t block the entrance with tables or chairs, as these will only act as barriers that keep people out.
Handing out your business card is great, but remember to grab some from prospective clients for your follow-up calls when you return home. If someone has taken the time to stop by and chat with you, then it is imperative that you reach out to them in a timely manner just to say thank you for their time and to see if they require any further information. A post-conference email with some of your key collateral can be a great way to re-engage with your prospect.
Most of those attending the conference from your company might not necessarily be familiar with the process of putting together and optimizing the exhibitor experience. A best practice is to bring down a handy event kit that includes necessary items that you might require while on-site. You never know when you might have to MacGyver your banner or fix a broken something or other.
Your event kit should include the following items:
- power cords
- name tags
- glue stick
- blank cards (business size) for those who run out and still want to enter your draw
- twist ties
- table cloth (preferably branded)
So now that you have all the tips to get the most from your exhibitor booth experience, you can really make the event a success. Taking the time to plan your conference involvement in advance, will make the journey much more fruitful. You will return with more valuable prospects and a better understanding of what you need to make the next conference even more lucrative.