So your biggest tradeshow of the year is a few months out and your boss just told you to “maximize the ROI” on the invent, handed you a budget and walked out of the room. Don’t laugh, this exact scenario happened to me not too terribly long ago. The booth plan was done and the construction was already underway when this directive was sent down from on high and it was up to my team to figure out exactly what was meant by “Maximizing the ROI” and exactly how to accomplish that goal.
The first thing we had to do was, of course, determine what the words meant, so we started digging. Being a numbers guy, the first thought was to check the numbers from last year’s event. Seems logical, but to my surprise, if not outright horror, the only numbers I could get from anyone was a salesman that was able to show me how many “leads” they generated during the three-day event, which amounted to a little more than the gathering and scanning of business cards and name badges. Obviously there was a lot of room for improvement here, so that was our starting point.
DISCLAIMER: Some of these ideas are pretty far out there, and some Conventions centers might give you a bit of a hard time, but there is not much we are not willing to do to succeed.
Get Them in the Door
Seems simple enough, right? But with all of the buzz on the convention floor, the 40-foot high balloons, noise, blinking lights… You get the point… it can be really hard to stand out without spending a ton of money, which is what we are trying to avoid. So one of our brilliant associates came up with a simple and very devious way to draw people toward our booth, we baked cookies. Yes, you read that correctly! Basically we stashed a small toaster oven under a desk and put the finished cookies out for people to eat… But the magic was the smell! People were coming to the booth from all over the convention floor to locate the course of the smell! Talk about a cheap way to get people in the door.
Get Them Talking
So now we have those potential clients coming in the door, or in this case to the booth, so now what? Well, to find out what the customer needs, there is no better way than to engage in conversation. To this end, we tend to make sure that the people tending our displays are intelligent and capable of engaging in a directed conversation without asking a bunch of direct or intrusive questions about the topic at hand. As most of you know the best path to a conversion is to let the client sell themselves, literally guide the conversation that they are excited to tell you exactly what they need. While this sounds simple on the surface, this is definitely an acquired skill and one that is not easily taught, so finding the right people is critical here.
Appealing to Vanity
So now we’ve got them talking. It has been our experience that most people are very happy to talk at length about themselves or their company… which is perfect for our needs. Of course it sounds rather base to “appeal to vanity”, but the fact remains that most people are more than happy to tell you everything about themselves, from kids to business. All that is needed is a bit of a nudge and the next thing you know you have created a “friend” and engaged with a potential new client in a memorable way… Just be prepared to listen, make notes and follow up on the conversation later.
Make it Memorable
So how do you stay top of mind and keep potential new clients engaged? You have to make the experience memorable. How do we accomplish that? We use a number of technology solutions for this purpose and one of the coolest we have come across is a Virtual Booth Attendant from a North Carolina company called PRSONAS. These unique engagement devices have been a huge hit everywhere we have deployed them. To be honest, the novelty of this item is what helps to draw people in to the booth in the first place, but once we realized the potential for engagement AND the analytics we were able to get from these units for a relatively small investment, it became clear, at least to us, that finding a novel device to engage potential clients is invaluable. You can check them out at PRSONAS.com
Ultimately we all attend these tradeshows to generate new leads within our chosen industries, but where a lot of people miss the boat is capitalizing on standard technologies in new ways. Analytics have become all but mandatory in business and if you are not capturing every piece of data you can, then you are falling behind! Simple solutions like age/gender specific messaging on displays to simple facial recognition for both new and existing clients are inexpensive and generate a huge ROI for a relatively minor investment, particularly when compared to the tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars companies are already spending for displays and booths and trades shows. We get into some specific details in our newest content offer, so check that out and learn how simple technology can help you leverage some pretty tremendous returns on your investments!