As a tradeshow industry veteran and marketing professional, I have attended expos and events of every type and size over the years. I can tell you that if the only impression that I got of a company was their expo booth, their personnel, and how the booth was set up, I can guarantee I won’t be doing business with many of them.
I’ve classified some don’t-let-this-happen-to-you booths as follows:
* The Booth Speaks for Itself – The company has invested some dollars in purchasing the booth space and may even have an elaborate backwall display. Only component missing is booth personnel. They’re off checking out the rest of the floor (particularly the free food booths), meeting with friends, etc. They’re hoping the booth will speak for itself. Message: Everything else is more important than meeting with or recruiting customers.
* The Minimalist – Booth contains the expo-provided draped table, two chairs, and the paper sign indicating the booth number. Brochures and business cards (sometimes only business cards) are left on the table. Booth personnel wonder why no one is stopping by. Message: Customers are not worth our time or investment.
* The Kitchen Sink – These folks are the polar opposite of The Minimalist. They bring EVERYTHING. Attendees will find something they like, right? Unfortunately, their unfocused approach has their expo investment circling the drain since attendees can’t figure out what they should look at. Message: We’re desperate and don’t have a clue.
* Just Another Day at the Office – If it weren’t for those annoying attendees, the booth personnel could get some real work done. Cell phone in hand, they’re turned away from the show aisle. My favorite was at a promotional product show I attended where the rep (my personally assigned rep no less) interrupted his conversation with me to take a cell call. Sorry to bother you. Sorry you won’t be getting any more of my business. Message: Same as The Booth Speaks for Itself, but with the rude twist.
* My Shift is from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Poor things. These chair-warming recruits don’t even like the thought of, eeewww, sales. And chair warming is exactly what they do. Can’t blame them. Their managers just sent them to cover the shift. Message: Same as The Minimalist.
* Booth Personnel Barnacles – These folks do understand that they are there to make sales, sometimes under duress. They’re desperate to make their numbers and will cling to any show visitor that even accidentally steps into the expo booth perimeter. No qualifying the visitor. Just do the pitch. Message: Same as The Kitchen Sink. We’re desperate and don’t have a clue.
* Oooo, More Non-Descript Equipment (or Consulting Services) – I stand in front of the booth. And stand there. And really, really try to figure out what these people are selling. If it’s a physical product, they’ll bring in some box-like device that does…? Even better are the consultants. Usually a sharp-looking backwall with some nifty graphics touting words such as integration, value-added, leadership, focused, relationships, and future. What do they do? What problems do they solve? These folks will go back to the office and bemoan the lack of qualified traffic at the show. Message: We know what we do, so how come you can’t figure it out?
Oh, I’m sure there are many other greatest hits (or misses?) that I’ve overlooked. But there’s always another show season around the corner and another opportunity to see what not to do when I exhibit myself. The best way to avoid all of these exhibiting pitfalls is to know your participation objectives, your target audience, and what makes your audience tick. As well, expo booth personnel must understand these, too, and be properly trained to optimize your tradeshow investment.
Want more promotional products ideas? Subscribe to our free email updates by entering your email in the following box and clicking Sign Me Up!