Michael Hill
Michael HillCEM, Vice President/Owner

With most companies these days tightening their budgets, those responsible for the bottom line must do everything they can to get the best ROI in anything they do.

If advertising, it had better be in a publication that the intended target audience is reading. If sending mailers, one needs to be sure that it will catch the target’s attention that split second before it gets tossed into the recycling bin. The same is true about trade shows. I can’t tell you how many shows I attend where I stop by one booth and ask “How’s the show going for you guys?” and I get a reply like “AMAZING! We’re doing really well. Lot’s of quality leads and interest in our product (or service).” Then I walk ten booths down and ask the same question and get a different answer, “This is the worst show ever. I doubt we’ll come back next year. It costs too much money to exhibit and we’re not seeing the return.” Fair enough I guess, but let’s look at two basic things before deciding to pull the plug on arguably the most cost efficient way to sell a product or service.

First of all, one of the most striking differences in these two booth scenarios is usually the booth personnel. The staff in the first booth is up, engaging and very happy. The staff in the second booth is usually sitting, possibly reading the paper, or texting. As a consumer, which experience are you going to choose to be part of? I know that if I’m looking for something and I have to make an effort to get someone’s attention away from their all-too-important texting, I’m walking next door.

The second aspect of turning a show from a bust to a boost is pre-show marketing. Are you part of an e-mail campaign to let your potential customer base know that you’ll be there and where to find you? Have you sent mailers out? I’m not a marketing person and don’t even pretend to be, but you’d be surprised by how many blank stares I get when I ask the person in the second booth this seemingly obvious question. I think there are those who have the “Field of Dreams” idea in their head that if they show up, people will come. That’s usually not the case, in my experience, unless you have some kind of gimmick at your booth that no one has thought of yet.

Again, I’m no marketing expert but these are the two most common things I see at trade shows and sometimes advice like this is almost better heard from the layman than the expert. Hey, if I see it, than surely the experts see it and they’ll be the first ones to point out the obvious. These two things are also the easiest to fix as well, in my opinion. An organized pre-show campaign and a little booth training and you’ve increased your presence at the show ten fold. A few small treks here and there and you may have a completely different experience at your next show!

The information and views of this contributing columnist are not necessarily the views or opinion of Meetings + Events or its parent company, Tiger Oak Publications.

Michael Hill, CEM, is co-founder and vice president of TTS Logistics, an international freight solutions provider specializing in transportation, customs clearance, Installation and Dismantling and storage of trade show freight. Hill is the chief strategist for development of the agency’s deployment of new customer service solutions, products and services.

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