When done successfully, working a booth at a local event, business expo, or other type of trade show can be a great way to grow awareness of the services your business provides to your community. But many marketers flop when it comes to successfully working their booth and maximizing the number of touch points available to reach potential customers both during and after the show.
Unlike doing cold calls to try and drum up new business, where often times you’re met with resistance from the person you’ve just interrupted, people who attend events arrive open to the idea of wanting to learn new things and perhaps even purchase items at the event. So how do reach this captive audience and encourage them to give your business the opportunity to serve their needs?
First: Invite People into Your Booth
When you setup your booth, don’t hide behind your table. Stand in front of it, smile, and make eye contact with people as they pass by your booth. Ask them questions like:
a) “Are you interested in learning more about how you can get convenient medical treatment around your schedule, instead of around an available appointment time?”
b) “Are you interested in learning more about our business and winning a (insert giveaway)?”
c) “Hello NAME ON NAMETAG! How are you?” (Response) “Let’s win you a (insert giveaway) and show you how our business can save you (insert benefit).”
Realize that some people are not going to be interested in what you have to offer. Thank them for their time and wish them well for the rest of the event.
Second: Plan Your Giveaway
Giveaways play off the human logic of reciprocity. Simply stated, when you do something nice for someone, they feel compelled to return the favor. Giveaways can be elaborate, like an iPhone, or smaller, like a gift certificate or gift basket.
At our business, I encourage marketers to hold raffles for gift cards to our business. I prefer this type of giveaway because first, it qualifies the lead. Only people who are considering using the services we offer will register for it. Second, it only costs our company money when the prospect becomes an actual customer and uses the gift card in our business.
Giveaways are an important part of your booth because they allow you to collect contact information from visitors who register to win the giveaway.
Third: Pick Your Promotional Item
Promotional items can be used in addition to giveaways or on their own. Many people are confused about the purpose of a promotional item. Once you understand that a large number of promotional items either end up in a child’s toy box or in the local landfill, you can begin to understand the importance of picking your promotional items wisely. The primary purpose of a promotional item at a trade show is to draw someone to your booth that might not have stopped otherwise. Your promo items should reflect the audience of the event. For example, pill boxes or bandage dispensers might be a great giveaway at a Senior Expo, but they might not be a big hit at a children’s health fair.
Fourth: Make Your Booth Interactive
Prize wheels, Plinko Boards, and other games where people play to win prizes at your booth can add an element of fun and create an experience for event goers. Additionally, by making someone play to win a prize, you cut down on the number of items they may take off of your table and increase the amount of time they are at your booth. While they are playing, use the extra time to tell them about the services you offer.
Fifth: Follow-Up with Your Leads
Within 72 hours of the event, follow-up with the contacts you made through your booth’s giveaway. Because our marketing team does not have time to phone each person who visits our booth, we only collect the name and email address of booth visitors. At the bottom of each entry form there is a note that says, “By registering for this prize and giving my email address, I agree to receive promotional emails from (BUSINESS NAME).” Having this statement on the registration tickets ensures our company is in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act.
Following each show, attendees are sent an email thanking them for coming by our booth, announcing the winner, and giving them additional information about the services we provide. Additionally, attendees are then added to our monthly newsletter, so we can continue marketing to them long after the show is over.
Sixth: Evaluate the Event
At the end of each event, I encourage you to complete an “Event Evaluation Form”. This form will become invaluable when the event comes around next year. The form should include contact information for the event, the lead strategy you used, if it was a successful event, and notes of things you would like to do different the next time the event comes around.