Booth traffic in most trade shows is “passive.” People passing the booth recognize the company name and look to see “what’s new.” Others recognize the equipment on display and decide they want to learn more.
Exhibitors who rely on passive traffic alone, however, miss out on a huge number of qualified prospects who simply don’t “see” their booth or actively choose to ignore it.
Expert exhibitors know maximizing the number of qualified leads they get from each show means actively attracting traffic to their booth and enticing qualified buyers into the booth to meet the booth team.
So how do you draw traffic to the booth?
At WEFTEC, a lot of companies are selling pumps. They have pumps on display. The message they are communicating is “come in here and let us sell you a pump.” If you want to buy a pump, it’s persuasive. But it could be better.
We all know the old marketing cliché: people don’t want to buy drills, they want “holes.” In fact, what they really want is to hang a picture on the wall. So, if you insist on leading with a product message, lead with the outcome the prospect wants: lower energy costs (save money), better reliability (lower cost of ownership, ease of use) or electronic monitoring (saving time, saving effort, maybe even “working from home”).
The outcome message must always connect to what the actual person in the aisle at the show wants. “Reduced energy costs” might attract a CFO at a show for real estate firms, but “ease of use” will attract the maintenance professional visiting the facilities conference.
Leading with a product demonstration is a great way to stop traffic because people like to see things “work.”They like to see automatic welding machines, remote-controlled equipment, etc.
The classic product “pitch” for kitchen tools like juicers and knives is effective because people in the aisle see the outcome, and they visualize themselves using the product.
After a good B2B product demonstration, people should have questions. They want to know more: How will it work in their business? How much does it cost? What’s the delivery time? What’s the product lifespan? These questions lead the prospect to engage the sales team; in fact, they are literally qualifying themselves and asking to schedule follow-up calls.
For over 40 consecutive years, Exhibit Surveys has reported that live performers and demonstrations are the most powerful way to build traffic on the trade show floor. Ironically, performers work well because they don’t use a product message to attract the crowd. People in the aisle are intrigued by the excitement, mystery and fun, and they enjoy the diversion from the usual “look at my stuff” experience that most booths offer.
In fact, the entertainment disarms the audience and makes them more open and receptive to the business message. By integrating the message into the show, the prospects are actually “learning” about the product while they’re being entertained.
Just like a product demonstration, the prospects should have questions at the end of the show, and they qualify themselves to the sales team when they come into the booth and ask for more information.
If the pundits are correct and business conditions will weaken in 2020, actively attracting prospects to your booth will become more important than ever. More companies are exhibiting at more shows, and the increase in total square footage sold indicates that the show floor is more competitive than ever before.
Exhibitors will need to make a memorable connection with booth visitors, position their sales team as trusted advisors, and avoid commoditization to close sales and defend price integrity.