Ten Things Your Staff Should Know | BSI Exhibits

Ten Things Your Staff Should Know
By Bob Thomas, CME

There are certain things your staff must know to make your shows and events more efficient and effective, and that will eliminate dozens of calls to you. Create a packet of information for them and your exhibitor event will run much smoother. This can be emailed to all staff regardless of their location or travel schedule.

1. Give them a 1-page info sheet on the show. Booth number, setup, exhibit, and teardown times; contact names and numbers (including yours); show location; and booth information (graphics, themes, demos, etc.).

2. Explain where to pick up badges. Will they be mailed to them, will they be at
Exhibitor Registration, or will you have them at the pre-show training session? Make sure everyone knows not to register without asking you first – paying unnecessary full registration costs is a waste of money.

3. Provide transportation options and information for flyers, drivers, locals, and commuters. Include taxi rates, metro and train info, parking locations, and airport options. The more they know, the less they will bother you.

4. Give them a map of event hotels with addresses and phone numbers. That way, they can easily communicate with coworkers, colleagues, clients, and meet with potential customers.

5. Create a list of local restaurants. Include Starbucks, fast food, and good places to take customers. Include addresses and phone numbers for all – a map is even better if you can find one on the web or modify a show map.

6. Give them a floor plan for the trade show and highlight your exhibit and those of your competitors. Section off the floor and assign them a section to canvas for B2B work and pick up competitor literature.

7. Be sure everyone knows who is presenting a seminar or topical. This list should be given to all that are attending the show and it should appear as a table card or graphic in your booth. “Be sure to see our staff at these….” Be sure every one of them says that they will be in Booth #1234 after the presentation for further questions or follow-up discussions.

8. Tell them all the special events related to the show – receptions, staff meetings, networking opportunities, and trade show hours. Tell them you expect them to be at every event unless they have appointments with clients or potential customers. Create and distribute a staffing schedule.

9. If you allow them time for non-business fun, remind them NOT to wear company shirts or their badge in a non-professional situation. You don’t want your company  logo at local club or on someone stumbling home after closing the bars.

10. Distribute an event survey for your staff. Ask them to rate the booth, special events, and your performance (handy at review and bonus time). You may need to send a reminder after the event (again via email) to get 100% compliance, but by then they may have forgotten all the bad stuff!

While this takes more time and adds to your list of Things to Do, the appreciation by your staff and less hand-holding during the show more than makes up for it. Remember the better you educate, train, and prepare your staff, the more successful your event and the more indispensable you are. After all, it is all about you, right?

Bob Thomas, CME is Founder and President of Exhibit and Event Management an exhibit management and consulting company based in Columbus Ohio. He is also Past Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Trade Show Exhibitors Association and has been managing trade show marketing exhibits for more than 16 years.

BSI Exhibits – A Berm Studios Incorporated Company

Ten Traps To Avoid | BSI Exhibits

Ten Traps: Avoid These Common Exhibit Marketing Mistakes

By Susan Friedmann

The key to great exhibiting is marketing. But marketing is a very inexact science that leaves room for a multitude of errors to occur. The following are ten of the most common marketing mistakes exhibitors often make. Learn to avoid them and you will increase your chances for a successful show.

1. Failing to have a proper exhibit marketing plan. Having both a strategic exhibit marketing and tactical plan of action is a critical starting point. To make trade shows a powerful dimension in you company’s overall marketing operation, there must be total alignment between the strategic marketing and your exhibit marketing plans. Trade shows should not be a stand-alone venture. Know and understand exactly what you wish to achieve: increasing market share with existing users, introducing new products and services into existing markets, or introducing new or existing products and services into new markets. This is the nucleus around which to build.

2. Failing to have a well-defined promotional plan. A significant part of your marketing includes promotion—pre-show, at-show and post-show. Most exhibitors fail to have a plan that encompasses all three areas. Budget is naturally going to play a major role in deciding what and how much promotional activity is possible. Developing a meaningful theme or message that ties into your strategic marketing plan will then help to guide promotional decisions. Know whom you want to target and then consider having different promotional programs aimed at the different groups you are interested in attracting. Include direct mail, broadcast faxes, advertising, PR, sponsorship and the Internet as possible ways to reach your target audience.

3. Failing to use direct mail effectively. Direct mail is still one of the most popular promotional vehicles exhibitors use. From postcards to multi-piece mailings, attendees are deluged with invitations to visit booths. Many of the mailings come from show management’s lists and as a result, everyone gets everything. To target the people you want to visit your booth, use your own list of customers and prospects—it’s the best one available. Design a piece that is totally benefit-oriented and makes an impact. Mail three pieces at regular intervals prior to the show, starting about four weeks out, to help ensure your invitation is seen. When possible, use first-class mail. There’s nothing worse than a mailing that arrives after the show is over.

4. Failing to give visitors an incentive to visit your booth. Whatever promotional vehicles you use, make sure that you give visitors a reason to come and visit you. With a hall overflowing with fascinating products and services combined with time constraints, people need an incentive to come and visit your booth. First and foremost their primary interest is in what’s new! They are eager to learn about the latest technologies, new applications, or anything that will help save them time and/or money. Even if you don’t have a new product or service to introduce, think about a new angle from which to promote your offerings.

5. Failing to have giveaways that work. Tied into giving visitors an incentive to visit your booth is the opportunity to offer a premium item that will entice them. Your giveaways should be designed to increase your memorability and communicate, motivate, promote or increase recognition of your company. Developing a dynamite giveaway takes thought and creativity. Consider what your target audience wants, what will help them do their job better, what they can’t get elsewhere, what is product or service related and what is educational. Think about having different gifts for different types of visitors. Use your Web site to make an offer for visitors to collect important information when they visit your booth. Giveaways should be used as a reward or token of appreciation for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation or contest, or as a thank-you for qualifying information about specific needs, etc.

6. Failing to use press relations effectively. Public relations is one of the most cost-effective and successful methods for generating large volumes of direct inquiries and sales. Before the show, ask show management for a comprehensive media list and find out which publications are planning a special show edition. Send out newsworthy press releases focusing on what’s new about your product or service, or highlighting a new application or market venture. Compile press kits for the press office that include information about industry trends, statistics, new technology or production information. Include good product photos and key company contacts. Have staff members at the booth who are specifically assigned to interact with the media.

7. Failing to differentiate. Too many exhibitors are happy to use the “me too” marketing approach. Examine their marketing plans and you will find an underlying sameness about them. With shows that attract hundreds of exhibitors, there are very few that seem to stand out from the crowd. Since memorability is an integral part of a visitor’s show experience, you should be looking at what makes you different and why a prospect should buy from you. This is of particular concern with generic products in your industry. Every aspect of your exhibit marketing plan, including your promotions, your booth and your people should be aimed at making an impact and creating curiosity.

8. Failing to use the booth as an effective marketing tool. On the show floor, your exhibit makes a strong statement about who your company is, what you do and how you do it. The purpose of your exhibit is to attract visitors so that you can achieve your marketing objectives. In addition to it being an open, welcoming and friendly space, there needs to be a focal point and a strong key message that communicates a significant benefit to your prospect. Opt for large graphics rather than reams of copy. Pictures paint a thousand words, while very few exhibitors will take the time to read. Your presentations or demonstrations are a critical part of your exhibit marketing. Create an experience that allows visitors to use as many of their senses as possible. This will help enhance memorability.

9. Failing to realize that your people are your marketing team. Your people are your ambassadors. They represent everything your company stands for, so choose them well. Brief them beforehand and make sure that they know why you are exhibiting, what you are exhibiting and what you expect from them. Exhibit staff training is essential for a unified and professional image. Make sure they sell instead of tell, don’t try to do to much, understand visitor needs, don’t spend more time than is necessary and know how to close the interaction with a commitment to follow up. Avoid overcrowding the booth with company representatives. Have strict rules regarding employees visiting the show and insist staffers not scheduled for booth duty stay away until their assigned time.

10. Failing to follow up promptly. The key to your trade show success is wrapped up in the lead management process. Plan for follow-up before the show. Show leads often take second place to other management activities that occur after being out of the office for several days. The longer leads are left unattended, the colder and more mediocre they become. It is to your advantage to develop an organized, systematic approach to follow-up. Establish a lead handling system, set timelines for follow-up, use a computerized database for tracking, makes sales representatives accountable for leads given to them and measure your results.

By Susan A. Friedmann, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY.

BSI Exhibits – A Berm Studios Incorporated Company