We have been exhibiting in the home builders’ home shows here in the St. Louis area for more than 60 years. While so many things have changed in so many ways over the years, it amazes me that exhibits in shows like these haven’t really changed much at all.
This year, the Home Builder’s Association of Greater St. Louis held a seminar in which ideas were presented to help exhibitors do a better job and obtain greater benefits from exhibiting. Since most HVAC contractors, wholesalers, or manufacturers exhibit in some type of shows or events, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide some of the thoughts presented.
The most important point we found was the importance of pre-planning. That includes marking out a space the size of your booth and actually placing your exhibit items in the booth space. This will allow you to ensure that your sight lines, accessibility, etc. are all the way you want them to be.
Secondly, and equally as important, hold a meeting for those who will be working in the booth to make sure everyone is up to date on any home show specials you are offering, any giveaways you are holding, and any other information that might be necessary for them to present a professional approach. Establish some realistic daily goals for leads you want to obtain. This is also the time to confirm the uniform look that all of those working will be wearing. After these most important items, the others were grouped by subject.
• Have a positive attitude, be enthusiastic and friendly, and project confidence;
• Be a good listener — like a consultant. Qualify clients as early as possible; and
• Don’t block signage. You only have five seconds to get their interest and attention.
• Have literature at the back of the booth and keep your inexpensive, black-and-white giveaways and handouts at the front; and
• Invite good prospects to the back of the booth, where you keep the expensive, four-color brochures, etc.
• Explain the specific benefits of your company and products you provide; and
• Emphasize how you are different from your competition and give examples using the services and products you offer.
Dos for You in the Booth
• Wear appropriate attire, stand up straight, act positive, and welcome people like you want them there; and
• Make immediate eye contact, smile, look friendly, shake hands, introduce yourself early, and ask open-ended questions, such as, “What?, How?, Why?, and Tell me about.”
What Not to Do
• Stand in groups and talk to each other, converse on a cell phone, send text messages, or use iPads or similar tablet devices, except when directly conversing with a potential client;
• Lean on part of the exhibit or sit behind a table in front, which projects laziness or event fatigue;
• Eat or have any alcoholic beverages in booth. Water or soft drinks are acceptable, but don’t litter the booth with cups or bottles;
• Dress inappropriately and stand at front of booth with arms crossed; and
• Leave the booth unattended. Remember, the last attendee deserves the same treatment as the first.
Lead Cards and Follow-up
• Capture all leads with information on lead cards, which helps to track the benefits of the show;
• Lead cards should be approximately 3-by-5-inches printed with boxes to check. Make sure they include your email address; and
• Send the leads you accumulated four follow-up mailings within six months to a year. It helps to include a handwritten note for personalization.
I realize that many of these points may seem to be overly obvious, but having just been involved in a show, I was amazed at how many exhibitors were guilty of not paying attention to one, two, or more of these recommendations. With this list in hand, it became apparent quickly which exhibitors would benefit from the show and which would not be satisfied with their results.
It costs a great deal of time, money, and effort to exhibit in a show. Don’t waste the opportunity to obtain the most benefits from participating. Using this list as a guideline will get you off to a really good start.
Publication date: 5/26/2014