Meet the Experts – Trade Show Booths with Charles Beshears
Hello Charles, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I began my career in sales for a variety of different companies. While doing sales, I would attend trade shows and conferences and it was my favorite aspect of the job. However, being constantly on the road was becoming difficult. I then decided to go into sales of trade show displays because I wanted to help organizations when they attend their own trade shows. We offer many different trade show display options because we know that it’s not a “one size fits all.” Companies have their own set of needs and goals that they want to achieve and we think their trade show display plays a huge role in their success. I am passionate about offering trade show advice based on some of my past experience.
As a company, how to choose the right event to promote my products & services?
When choosing which trade show to attend, do your research. You want to make sure that the audience the trade show is attracting is the audience that would be interested in your services and products. We usually prefer attending trade shows that are well established because they already have a following and the trade show runs smoothly.
If you’re interested in a new trade show, try attending it for the first year so you can see what it’s like. You can then make a more informed decision about whether it’s a good idea to exhibit the following years.
What resources should be allocated to an event? What department should be leading the project?
Trade Shows can be demanding in terms of time and money, which is why when you decide to attend a trade show, you should be fully committed. What we see often is that people plan to attend a trade show months in advance but only start giving it the attention it deserves the last few days before the event. By that time, they’re rushing to find vendors, set up marketing materials, and implementing a sales plan. We recommend you start planning for a trade show 3-6 months in advance.
Both the sales and marketing team should work together throughout the process. We’ve learned that the more involved all team members are, the smoother it goes. Make decisions together about which trade shows you’re attending, what you’re purchasing, staffing, budget, etc. My recommendation would be for those that are actually attending the trade show to take the lead (whichever department that might be) since they will be the ones that will invest the most amount of time into the trade show and they know what they need in order to excel when they’re exhibiting.
What should companies pay special attention to when planning their booth?
When planning a booth, companies should pay special attention to their branding and messaging. Because you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of attendees walking by, you want to have a clear and concise message. Your display should clearly state who you are and what you do . However, it’s not only about being informative, your display also has to be attractive and eye catching.
What about displaying products on the booth, what are your recommendations?
If you’re going to display products, try to keep your booth clean and organized.
It’s better to choose your top products (enough so you have variety) and really showcase those.
If you’re showcasing products, be careful about how you sell. You don’t have to give a full description of every single product to your attendees because you don’t want to overwhelm them with information. Instead, ask them questions to find out what they’re looking for and make a recommendation on one or two products. This way, they’re getting information that’s useful to them and its information that they’ll remember.
What should exhibitors do to attract traffic to their booth?
Gigantic gestures aren’t needed to attract traffic to your booth. The biggest thing you can do to attract people to your booth is just be friendly. It surprises me when I see people sitting down at a trade show, talking on their phone, or eating lunch right at their booth. All of those things scream “Stay away!”
Smile at everyone that walks by and be yourself! Have fun and interact with attendees. We’ve noticed that personalities attract more people than anything else. Stand up, be present, and talk to people. It’s not a magical, fancy formula but it works!
Don’t be afraid to use social media to attract more attendees. You can use the designated trade show hashtag to connect with exhibitors and attendees and to start a conversation. You can also create social media competitions or give updates of what you’re doing. By using social media, you’re also building connections that will last even beyond the trade show but it’s a less intrusive way to stay in touch with them.
How to efficiently capture leads on the booth and insure a proper follow-up?
Ask questions. What do they want to get out of the trade show, what do they do at their company, what type of company is it? You can capture hundreds of leads just by having a fish bowl and have people drop off their business cards to win a prize, but you want QUALITY leads not just random leads. You need to spend time on people that are actually interested in your products and start to build a relationship then and there.
Something that I always recommend is that exhibitors write notes about the customers they spoke with. Write notes about what they were interested and when you should follow up.
Don’t send a blast email otherwise they’ll feel like you signed them up to an email list. Instead, write something personal and connect it to something you were talking about at the trade show. For example, if they mention recently getting promoted then you might congratulate them again in your email. Anything that you speak about at a trade show can be used to create a personal follow up that is more likely to get a response.
What do you advise companies to do to insure proper return on investment?
There are many benefits to attending at a trade show, including an increase in exposure, an ability to network, developing partnerships, and more. Although those are great benefits, corporations want to see a return on investment and the monetary value. To maximize your return on investment, find ways to save money and stretch your trade show budget. which can be through a number of different ways. For example, buy a trade show display that is lightweight so that you aren’t spending money on freight shipping or setup. Instead of spending money on brochures and flyers, send digital copies. Something that I tried to do while I was in sales is that I would schedule meetings during the days of the trade show. This way, I could maximize the time I was away from the office and we could move faster on closing sales.
Any additional tips for our readers?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Exhibitors come to us and sometimes don’t know what they want and once they ask, we’re happy to make recommendations. Trade show display companies are well versed in trade shows in general- not just on booth displays. There are also great resources online, so read up on blogs and articles!
|Charles Beshears is the President of National Trade Show Displays, an online retailer of pop up displays, fabric displays, banner stands, and a variety of trade show products.