Ah, trade show season! For many small businesses, it’s a time of mixed emotions: excitement over the possibilities, like meeting new customers and increasing your company’s exposure. But there are the stressful parts as well: what to say, what to wear, and what promotional product goodies to bring.
Enjoy the excitement part without any interference from us. Hey, dreaming big is the fuel that keeps small businesses going, right? As for those other concerns, read on because we can help.
What to Say – Keep it Open
Let’s face it: attending a trade show can be physically and mentally exhausting. You’re on your feet for a good chunk of the day. And you’re “on” for that whole time as well, meaning you need to represent your company, engage booth visitors, and sound as fresh, articulate, and excited with visitor #1 as you are with visitor #1001.
Here’s the #1 tip we can offer when it comes to engaging people:
Ask open-ended questions. You want to get people talking (and talking about something relevant to your business). Don’t ask them things like “Are you enjoying the trade show?” or “Do you think it’s hot in here?” Sure, you’ll get a response, but it will likely be a one-word answer. Instead, ask open-ended questions.
For example, if you’re a home builder specializing in universal design and you’re attending a trade show or expo that attracts homeowners, you might ask a booth visitor something like, “What’s the most challenging area to access in your house?” The person’s answer will foster a conversation where you can ease into a discussion around universal design.
Bonus Tips to Better Conversations at Trade Shows:
- Rejuvenate your body. It’s okay to take a break! You need to stay hydrated, you need food, and you need to walk around and refresh your noggin. Don’t worry about “missed opportunities” if you have to leave your booth for fifteen minutes. You won’t be much use to any people who stop by your booth if your stomach is growling or you’re crossing your legs because you have to use the rest room. Just make sure to post a sign with the time you’ll be back and include your contact info.
- Relax your mind. Seriously. No one knows your business better than you do. People aren’t there to try to stump you with questions. And guess what? If they do ask a tough question that requires you to get back to them, well voila – now you have the perfect excuse for engaging the prospects AFTER the trade show.
What to Wear – YOU are a Walking Billboard for Your Brand
We’ll be talking about your booth below, but what about your body? Make sure you wear apparel that has your logo prominently displayed. (And ditto for anyone minding your booth.)
We recommend these polo shirts – they look great, travel well, and you can continue wearing them outside of the show. They’re easy for us to customize as well.
Custom T-shirts also work, too, especially if you want a more casual look.
What to Bring – Think Booth Bling
As you’re engaging people, you want to make sure you have branded promotional products available that they can take and walk away with. People love free stuff. Your job is to provide promotional products that people will actually use. Whenever they use your promo product, they’ll see your logo and their brain will be reminded – even if it’s on a subconscious level – of the conversation they had with you.
Here are some of our favorite promotional products to use at trade shows:
1. Anti-microbial Gel Stress Balls. Who doesn’t love kneading these puppies when they’re on the phone, watching TV, or sitting in on a trade show session? The anti-microbial feature protects the balls from odors and stains. (This means your logo will always look its best.)
2. Promotional Pens. Sometimes the simplest promo item works best. Don’t underestimate the power of the pen! They’re easily tucked into briefcases, bags, and purses…and they have the ability to “walk” when people “borrow” them.
3. Double-wall Acrylic Tumblers. These are a smart, eco-friendly choice because they’re reusable, which is a hot topic for many people. People love using them as well.
4. Brightwell Key Chain. This is a tried-and-true fave among all of us at Amsterdam Printing. Key chains are popular booth items since they’re eye-catching, functional (thanks to the cool LED flashlight), and they travel well – people often pop them onto their key rings right then and there.
5. Gund Bears. This is a great choice if you’re heading to a show or expo that’s family oriented and where there might be kids (think home shows, boat shows, food expos…you get the idea).
Coming next week: Trade Show Marketing Ideas – Part 2: Driving People to Your Booth