Don’t let attendees at #IMTS think your booth is just a lot of hot air!

What are yourgoals for the IMTS show?

As IMTS is rapidly approaching many exhibitors are scrambling to be prepared for and caught up in all of that necessary, last-minute minutia that we all tend to forget about. But, take a moment to sit back and think about the big picture of exhibiting at IMTS. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Getting ready for launch: IMTS 2010

    Introduce a New Brand?

  • Introduce a New Product?
  • Meet with key customers?
  • Meet with Key channel partners?
  • Get leads?
  • Get orders?

As you make your final preparations we’ve put together a checklist of things that you may want to think about, and perhaps review with all of the folks working in your booth, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understands your objectives. Think of this as a pre-game checklist.

Layout

It almost goes without saying but, have you planned to use your exhibit to meet your objectives?

  • Based upon your location type (in-line, corner, end, island) and size have you considered which areas will get the most traffic? What will be the first thing attendees see when the see your booth?
  • Do attendees have the ability to “walk
in” your booth or have you created a “wall” of display to keep them out? The best booths don’t create a “wall” that creates the impression of “we” and “them”
  • What are your exhibitor neighbors doing in their booths that could affect traffic in yours? Many exhibitors don’t talk to their new neighbors until they get to the show only to find out that the booth plans that had been made get thrown out the door because the “lay of the land” has changed. It happens at every show and it’s forgotten about immediately after the show.
  • Where is your attendee card reader located? Many times during a pre show set up exhibitors tend to forget the space for the card reader. The last-minute decision is to put the card reader in a heavy traffic area. This leads to bottlenecks in the booth with someone trying to demonstrate a new product while another is pushing through to swipe a card.
  • Have you set up your booth in advance? Do you have so many products on display that it looks like a flea market? Do customers have too many choices?
  • Conversely, have you elected not to display products that have been out for 10 years because “everyone has seen them”? I’ve seen, on several occasions, older products that are completely NEW to a first time attendee. Don’t be afraid to display them and talk about them. What may be old news to you is new news to someone else. You know the saying about “never assume”
  • Are your products glued down or can customers touch them? We’re in a very tactile industry. Attendees want to touch, hold, and use the products. If your concern is about products getting “happy feet” perhaps re-evaluate what your competitors are doing. If you are the attendee, and in one booth you visit the products are all glued down, while in another they are not only available to hold and touch, but the competitors says “Will that work for you? Take it
and try it”. Who do you think gets the business?

PreShow Attendee planning & marketing

Have you been in contact with your channel partners to find out which days they will be attending? Will their customers be joining them?

The best time to make sure you see everyone you would like to is before the show. Create a list of whom you expect to see and when. Make sure that the key contact people are available to meet them. Check the list at different points during the show. If you see that someone has not 
visited when they said then give ’em a call them on their cell, text them, tweet them and tell them
 you’re looking forward to seeing them.

Attractions

  • How are you going to engage people?
  • What do you say?
  • Have you developed a “talk track” for all booth workers?
  • Does everyone know the “game plan”?
  • Are all of your booth workers fluent in the products?

I’ve been in booth at times when booth workers have arrived at the show and immediately “went to work”. Unfortunately, they had not been trained or given any instructions. This has led to the “not that’s wrong” conversations and, as a result, ruined the momentum of the sales person. They “got egg on their face” and therefore aren’t going to be effective for the rest of the show.

If you have people coming in to be in the booth be sure and have a plan to take the time to review the “why’s & wherefore’s” of you booth, your products and any information that they are going to need to help attendees. Remember one “uninformed” can give the wrong information to 100 people in a matter of hours. Take some time to review your “game plan”.

Follow-up

How quickly are you getting the leads into the field? Do your people take good notes? If
 you have a plan to get out literature do you have a plan to visit the customer?

Remember attendees who have put you on their pre-show planner are stopping by for a reason. If they see something that they like then they have every right to expect literature, and follow-up immediately. They have every right to expect to be treated as your BEST and ONLY customer.

What happens in your booth?

Is there a standard set of guidelines for all booth workers?

  • All the things to make "it" happen

    Are you on the cell phone?

  • Are you on your laptop?
  • Are you sitting in the back of the booth waiting for someone to interrupt you?
  • Does your booth invite people into it?
  • Is it ok to call the factory for information while in the booth?
  • Is it ok to take a call from the factory to answer their questions while you’re in the booth?

What people seem to sometimes forget is that attendees have a limited amount of time to see everything that they would like to see at IMTS. Their time is valuable.

The most important person at your booth may be the one that never asks a question, never makes a comment, but listens. That person is probably the real decision-maker and they are looking at everything but the products. The are making observations about how organized your company is, will they be able to get support, will they be able to base their process and service their customers by using your products.

If your people are sitting down, finishing their conversation and then getting to the questions you are making a brand statement about your company. At different points during the show it’s a good idea to step into the aisle and put yourself in the attendees shoes and ask yourself a simple question: “What’s my initial impression of this company?”

I look forward to any additional comments or insight your might have….

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