Exhibitions ought to be great places to capture leads and start new customers on their journey with your company. But actually drawing people to your stand and engaging them in conversation can be hard work. We often find companies resorting to cheap giveaways with very little thought behind them, and no precise means of using that giveaway to generate a lead. We’ve put our heads together to come up with some fun ways to make the most of exhibitions, attract people to your stand and capture lead data.
Think about your giveaway
I have a drawer full of stuff I’ve brought back from exhibitions. There’s no denying that some of it has been useful – who doesn’t need pens? USB sticks definitely had their place a few years back. The Frisbee, well… The key thing to point out, however, is that I didn’t have to give my email address for any of it. I picked them up, or had them thrust upon me, and then I moved on. What good has it really done those companies? None of them make USB sticks, pens or Frisbees. All the giveaways are completely off brand and largely forgettable.
We would strongly recommend that your giveaway is on-brand. This isn’t always easy, I know. Some of you are selling obscure products or services that don’t easily lend themselves to affordable giveaways. Try to think of something that might complement your offering, or perhaps something that works as a kind of tangible pun. Whatever it is, it should be memorable – either because it’s funny or clever, or because it’s going to get a lot of use.
If it’s a fun, cheap giveaway you’re after, try to add an element of competition. The only time I’ve ever seen a yo-yo be a successful giveaway was the time the guy giving them away was an expert yo-yoer (yo-yo-ist?). Suddenly the hall was full of people trying to walk the dog. It was nothing whatsoever to do with what he was selling, but if he had been smart (instead of, I suspect, bored – it was a quiet day), he would have built a digital leader board, offered an on-brand prize to the winner related to the product/service he was selling, and collected a bunch of email addresses so he could later engage in friendly yo-yo related banter. A great start to the customer journey.
The gift of information
A giveaway doesn’t have to be a gimmick. If you have something of value to offer, like a new white paper or ebook, why not make that the focus of your exhibition campaign? In order to get visitors on the hook, you’d need to make a splash with your exhibition stand itself. If your white paper answers a question, for example, why not have that question as the main feature of your pop up stand? If you’ve done your homework and it’s a question your customers want the answer to, that in itself should be enough to draw people to your stand. You can then take their details on a GDPR compliant data form and email the white paper to them right there and then using your tablet or other mobile device.
Offer the luxury of downtime
Sometimes what people want at an exhibition is a comfy place to sit and a little bit of downtime. Decking out your exhibition space with a sofa or a couple of La-Z-Boys in an area where it’s obvious there’s not going to be any sales pressure gives your customers the chance to take the load off. Lay on some coffee and biscuits and you’ve got yourself a little island of calm in a sea of chaos.
We’d recommend you set up iPads in kiosk mode in the same space and let your visitors choose to browse your product offering in peace, or – the more fun option – play a game. The iPresent Sales Enablement app for mobile devices offers a couple of simple but addictive games as part of its Data Form feature. Once the user has finished playing the game, they will be invited to submit their details. You’ll often find that’s a trade people are willing to make in exchange for a rest from the drudgery of walking the floor. Once again, you can make it competitive, set up a digital leaderboard and encourage people to come back and see how they’re doing in the competition.
A photo booth doesn’t suit every style of exhibition, but in the right place it can be a lot of fun. Typically, the photos are printed and that’s your giveaway – a branded memento of the occasion. However, sending out a digital version of the picture is a smarter course of action as it enables you to capture the email address of the person in the photograph.
What about taking it a step further and using one of the many available apps to turn the photograph into an ecard? Sending a card back to the office to say what a great time your visitor is having (and of course, how hard they are working!) would allow you to capture more than one email. You could also ensure that one of your salespeople is copied in to every email – a great way to start a conversation, particularly if the exhibition is in an enviable location.
Of course these digital images also make great collateral for social media. If you have the booth set up, with props or whatever branding you choose, it doesn’t take a great deal of technology or money to make something like this work for you.
You’re investing big bucks in an exhibition stand, but are you investing sufficient time making people aware you’re going to be there? Social media campaigns, pre-show blogs, newsletters and targeted emails can all help drum up some interest in your company before the event – particularly if you have something special to offer on your stand.
The other point to consider is how suited the people on the stand are to the job. It’s worth offering some training to help your salespeople make the most of the opportunity that exhibitions present. Charisma is a difficult thing to teach, but you can at least point your salespeople towards engaging behaviors and away from ones that are likely to put people off. Some top tips for exhibition stand etiquette include:
- Two heads are better than one. A lonely salesperson looks desperate and no one wants to talk to desperate. Send at least two salespeople, but not so many that your stand is crowded with hungry salespeople fighting over customers!
- Smile. Try to look like you’re having a good time. People will be drawn to that.
- Face outwards. It sounds obvious but people who are facing away from the stream of foot traffic are sending out the message that they don’t want to be disturbed.
- Hold meetings elsewhere. Similarly, meetings taking place on your stand can put off other visitors. Try and hold them elsewhere.
- Keep it light. It’s rare you’ll close a deal with a new customer at an exhibition. Think of this as just the start of the customer journey and you’ll fare better.