When I observe people at tradeshows I am always amazed at how homogeneous the interactions are. The questions are always the same. “How’s the show been for you?,” “How was your flight?,” and “How has business been this year?” Are all acceptable to ask, but the attitudes of attendees and exhibitors can have little variety (yes, even at the IFAI Expo.)
Which of these booth personalities sounds familiar to you?
- The “this show is a waste of time” guy who sits in the back of his booth playing Pokémon on his cell phone
- The “I got so drunk last night fill in the blank” guy
- The “mad at the world/this trade show sucks” guy
All of these are extremely popular personalities represented at most tradeshows. I think anyone who has tradeshow experience will admit to being that guy (or gal) at one time or another. Most people seem to just want to go through the motions, get it over with, and go home.
If that’s the experience you’re looking for at this year’s IFAI, stop reading right here. We have a different approach to tradeshows, however, and look at them as a powerful tool in building new business opportunities and maintaining relationships with our existing partners. The truth is that tradeshows are what YOU make of them. You will reap the rewards of your own efforts or lack thereof.
3 tips for surviving and thriving at this year’s IFAI
Tip 1: Positive Attitude
Maintaining a good attitude is vital to getting all you can out of a tradeshow. Whether the show is busy or slow, make the most of it. You are already there – you might as well enjoy and engage. You are in front of an audience that you or a decision maker at your company deemed to be important to your business. Take advantage of the opportunity. Rather than sitting in your booth staring at your phone, stand up and engage attendees.
Though most shows have rules aimed at preventing aggressive sales techniques, there is nothing wrong with being friendly and assertive. At least make eye contact and greet attendees passing your booth. You will be surprised at how many leads you get if you simply look like you are interested in what is going on around you. Nothing is worse than walking up to a booth with a complacent staff.
Tip 2: Strengthen Existing Partnerships
Tradeshows are also a good time to enjoy getting to know your regular clients better. Not only are you surrounded by new opportunities, but also by the people you already do business with, who are crucial to the life of your company. Spend as much time with clients as you can. Make sure they have a good time.
Existing customers are exponentially more important than new business leads. Make sure you have space in your booth to invite customers and would-be customers to sit down and take a load off. Everyone’s feet hurt and they are tired of walking. If you make people feel good they will remember you. Simply showing you understand how to treat people is invaluable to the reputation of any company.
Tip 3: Post-Show Action
During a show everyone seems to judge success by how many leads you are getting. Sheer volume of leads is not the best indicator of how well the tradeshow turned out for you. What you do with the leads once you are back at the office will determine success or failure. Whether you have one lead or a thousand, it will do no good without following up. And don’t just follow up. Follow up your follow ups. VERY few sales are ever made on the first or second contact. Turning leads into clients can be a long process. Never give up on a lead that you know is a good fit for your product or service. Eventually every dog needs a bone.