Updated June 2017
Are you looking for ways to improve your on-site strategy at your next show?
Even if you have an outstanding exhibit, with innovative displays that make your product almost jump off the shelf, compelling literature, and giveaways that everyone wants, your company will not get the most out of the show unless booth staffers are prepared to do a good job of selling for your company.
Preparing Your Booth Staffers
After all, that’s why you have people in your booth – to sell. Even if you take no orders on the show floor, there are many sales functions that take place as staffers interact with potential customers. Anyone who works at shows should be aware of company goals for being there. They should participate in pre-show training, should know the products on display, and be prepared to answer basic questions about them. Most importantly, they should exhibit behavior that makes attendees feel welcome in the booth at all times.
What is proper booth etiquette? There are many lists on this topic about not eating, drinking, sitting, talking with booth staffers, and using technology devices. Any of these behaviors can make attendees keep walking past your trade show exhibit.
KEEP IN MIND OF THESE IRRITATING BOOTH BEHAVIORS
Perhaps the hardest rule to manage these days is using cell phones or other personal electronic devices while in your trade show booth, as these devices have such an abundant presence in the workplace. It is all too common for people to check their phone in the midst of a business conversation for new emails or text messages. On the show floor, this behavior is irritating and unacceptable… unless it is used correctly.
BE DIGITALLY SOCIAL, YET PHYSICALLY INTERACTIVE — DO NOT SEND THE WRONG SIGNAL
For many companies, social media is a major part of the strategy in bringing people to the booth. Someone who is on the floor, in the booth, or walking around might be tweeting, posting information on Facebook or sending out an Instagram picture of items in the booth.
Capturing the moment is important in social media, but how will an attendee know if someone in the booth is chatting or texting with a friend or conducting business?
Simply put, it is difficult to distinguish why booth workers are buried in their phones. If on-floor social media is to be an important part of your trade show presence, you must take several steps to make sure you’re not sending the wrong signal or pushing your attendees away.
Making Social Media Part of Your Trade Show Exhibit
Having enough people to staff your booth is crucial. When traffic is slower, this may seem like a waste of personnel. But if you can have one of those people designated as the social media person, you will get more out of the show and likely more attention from attendees.
Make the social media posting an obvious part of your in-booth marketing.
1. Designate a special part of the booth as a social media center. Pose with customers and prospects and ask them if you can post the picture online. Ask customers their opinions about your company’s products and post favorable or not-so favorable comments they make.
2. If you’re doing a demo of a product, ask people what they think and use those comments as short testimonials, flash it in twitter with hashtag and the twitter handle of the person commenting. Two objectives are being met. You are galvanizing your brand and you are shining the light on the commentator. Chances are he/she will speak favorably about your product.
3. Make your product demo fun and lively. You want to either live stream them or post snippets of it, with people's comments and reactions. You might even want to have a sign or a big screen with your Facebook page, your twitter handle, and any other social media outlets you’re using. This allows people to engage with your booth by incorporating your company’s social media tags.
4. The social media posts that come from the show should be in line with your marketing strategy. Whoever is doing the postings should be prepared with some basic material to post that incorporates the official hashtags for the show.
5. Even if you try to present your company as approachable, everything that is posted should be businesslike and correctly spelled. You can still be personable and professional in your social media posts.
6. Add a magic show to entice people into your booth. Post pictures of the first day reception that usually takes place at the venue, along with your booth number, what’s happening in the booth, and get people to stop by for a visit.
7. Very important to remember: your business might be small, but the perception of your business does not have to be.
8. Word of caution: Personal cell phones and other electronic devices should never be used while staffing your booth. But careful and strategic planning can make them a perfect fit for on-site social media integration.
Learn more ways to use social media to drive traffic to your booth. Read the Using Promotions and Social Media to Get More Trade Show Visitors white paper to learn why promotions and interaction is so valuable to visitors.
About the Author: Jennifer Snyder is the Marketing Associate of Lead Generation and Customer Engagement at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has over 3 years of marketing experience.