• Fastener Trade Show Tips from this Fastener Freak

    Date: 2010.08.24 | Category: Fastener Industry | Tags:

    [Here is something I wrote in 2008 on my old blog (yes, I sound so hip by saying I had more than one blog, even if I hardly posted anything) after attending NIFS-WEST.  Since we are getting near that season again I thought I would re-post it here.  It sounds a little bit preachy to me now, but I think it makes some good points.  Please add your comments!]

    Trade Show Tips

    I did one day at NIFS/West and it was not bad. The show itself is run very well. I forgot to bring my badge, but it was a piece of cake to get my badge at the show. No long line, just an easy self serve computer and badge printer. The people who run the show have it down pretty well, and I liked the hotel (and the buffet I tried for lunch was great).

    Having spent time inside the booth at trade shows, I know that sometimes it feels like you are just there because your boss stuck you there. At this show there were people in booths who did things to make it obvious that they didn’t really want to be there, or didn’t care whether they actually talked to customers and prospects. I am guilty of having done some of them in the past, so I understand how it happens. But some things just seem like a waste and will not attract people to your booth:

    • Clustering – the people who are working in the booth get in a circle (or rectangle or triangle) and talk to each other, ignoring passersby.
    • Zappers – the person in the booth only seems interested in scanning your badge with the cool little electronic scanners they have, and then looks at you like, “Why are you still here? I am going to mail you a bunch of crap you probably don’t want, but my boss will be impressed with how many scans I have”.
    • Munchers – people who have their cup of coffee, or bottle of water, or even their half-eaten lunch, sitting on the display table.
    • Downers – this is usually a solo booth person who nobody is talking to and who looks so bored and/or sad that even though you feel sorry for them, you just don’t want to go near them for fear that they will suck you into their world of doom.
    • Pouncers – more than just a friendly hello, these people start to give you a canned presentation if you do so much as walk within 10 feet of their booth.
    • Teasers – they have really cool promo giveaways, but they put them in the back of the booth so you know you have to run the presentation gauntlet to get that pocket flashlight.
    • Stuffers – these folks are not so bad. They are eager to give you a bag or some kind of cool promo, but that seems to be all they want to do. They make you feel like you should take your promo and gomo.
    • Ringers – The pretty people (sometimes extremely pretty) who are in the booth to smile, be friendly and hand you a brochure, but don’t know much about the company and maybe don’t even work for the company.
    • No-shows – The booth space is labeled, and maybe you really wanted to talk to somebody from that company, but they ain’t there.
    • Non-English Speakers – I don’t have a clever nickname for this group because I don’t want to seem mean. I certainly can’t say that I have learned much of any other language, but it just doesn’t make sense to be in a trade show booth in the U.S. if you don’t speak any English at all, unless there is at least one person there to translate.

    OK – so I’ve ripped about 80% of the booths in some way. Am I just being negative? No, of course not. It’s just more fun, and maybe more illustrative to point out the DON’T s. But from my perspective having spent all day walking the aisles, here are some easy DO’s that will get good results and make the show more fun:

    • Have a nice, simple booth that includes samples or pictures of your product(s) or clear simple illustrations of your service(s). Attendees should be able to tell at a glance what the heck you do.
    • Be looking at people as they go by. If someone makes eye contact, smile and say hello. Maybe ask a quick and easy qualifying question to find out if the attendee might be interested in your stuff. Make friendly conversation.
    • If the attendee seems to want a promo item, hand it to the person and maybe give more than one.
    • If the conversation is worth continuing for both of you, keep asking questions to find out what information is most important.
    • If you get to the point where it makes sense to get a business card and/or scan the attendee’s badge, first explain exactly why you are asking, “We have a great brochure that really spells out what I am talking about. If I can get your email address I’ll email it to you.” or “Jasper in our Fargo branch is our resident expert on edible insects, he would love to give you a call if I can get your contact information.”

    Keeping it friendly and helpful makes these things worthwhile for all of us. Even if a few people came mostly for the casinos and buffets at night, we might as well all get as much out of the show as we can by really connecting.

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