Trade shows have been around for years and are intended to showcase and demonstrate each exhibitor's latest products and services. While some trade shows are open to the public, most meeting professionals today plan "closed" shows where a finite number of attendees and members of the press are allowed on the floor.
In the past, booth sales personnel used to give tchotchkes away in an attempt to lure attendees to their booth. Many would walk off the floor with a couple of bags stuffed with giveaways. But not anymore. Restrictions among the industry, budgetary concerns and attempts to be green are stopping or at least slowing down the purchase of promotional items.
So, with no tchotchkes and a limited number of people to talk to, how can exhibitors' make the most of their time? The industry evolved to hosted buyer trade shows which are gaining some traction. However, there is a bit of an ethical dilemma because the exhibitor doesn't really know the quality of the lead they are sitting across from, only that they are a potential client that could possibly use their services. In addition, not every trade show can afford to fly-in and "wine and dine" attendees.
So, what is the future of trade shows? And are they eventually going to die off?
Traci Browne, Author of The Social Trade Show: Leveraging Social Media and Virtual Events to Connect with Your Customers, stated in a recent PCMA Convene article that exhibitors need to find new ways to attract attendees to their booth.
She states there are three effective ways to bring attendees to you:
Provide valued expertise.
Design a solid digital strategy and then choose your social tools.
- Focus on quality over quantity.
What interactive technology tool rentals can help you with this strategy? Let's take a closer look:
VALUED EXPERTISE: Make certain you have individuals in your booth that are experts on your products and services or can connect the attendee to the expert back at the home office via an iPad or Touch Screen Display. A recent CEIR article stated that meeting participants would rather speak with your company's researcher than a sales rep. Why? Because they view researchers as experts who can explain what your organization is doing today, as well as, what is planned in the future.
SOLID DIGITAL STRATEGY: Getting 100 Facebook likes on your Fan page is not a strategy, it is a tactic and a weak one at best. But connecting and conversing with 50 of your "A-lister" prospects via social is a strategy. Blogging about the trade show and posting it on social channels, including the show's hashtag, is another strategy that shows you are an industry thought leader. Whatever digital tools you use, make certain they are getting you closer to closing business with your prospects.
FOCUS ON QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: One way to get attendees to your booth is to rent a charging station that allows them to take ten minutes and recharge their mobile devices. While they are in your booth, your team has the opportunity to ask engaging, qualifying questions. The truth of the matter is, not everyone is going to be interested in what you have to sell. Gather the leads that are a fit for your product niche and the sales team back home will be energized because they will be working with solid leads.