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Making the most of the Exhibition Booths


September 1, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Without question, exhibitions remain an important marketing/sales tool for companies. While it is the responsibility of the organizers and promoters to attract the right audience to the exhibition and…

Without question, exhibitions remain an important marketing/sales tool for companies. While it is the responsibility of the organizers and promoters to attract the right audience to the exhibition and to create a floor design which distributes the exhibitors evenly on the show floor, it then becomes each exhibitor’s responsibility to attract customers into the booth.

Prior to the exhibition, pre-show advertising/promotion should be considered to draw attention to the products, new company initiatives and location on the show floor. At the show, installing the display is only half the battle for those exhibiting. Once the doors open to the general public, the pre-show promotion, display effectiveness and sales personnel are crucial to generating the important, qualified sales leads sought to justify the return on their investment (ROI). All too often, exhibitors expect customers to enter their booth for product information, regardless of the attractiveness of their display and effectiveness of their sales personnel. Unfortunately, potential customers will often avoid displays where sales personnel are simply sitting, rather than actively engaging passers-by.

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Exhibitors continue to use many different types of on-site gimmicks to attract the customers’ attention prior to moving on to the next display. Some of these include:

* magicians, caricaturists

* feet and/or body massages

* give-aways including gifts, trinkets, food and beverages

* draws for an important prize or trip

* discounts on items purchased at, or soon after the event

* attractive hosts and hostesses

* use of computers for customers to send/retrieve personal e-mails

* seminars

EXPERIENCED SALES

While all of these have the potential to attract customers to the exhibitor’s booth, it then becomes critical that the exhibitor keeps the customer’s attention through experienced sales personnel. This is the make or break point and, as many studies have shown, the exhibitor has 20 seconds to make their sales pitch before the customer moves on. Thus, it is critical that the most qualified, effective sales personnel are at the booth.

DISPLAY

Once a potential customer has been exposed to the sales pitch, an efficient follow-up system must be in place to pursue important sales leads in a timely manner after the event.

Display design and graphics must not be overly complicated, but should contain a few key messages presented with visually appealing, simple graphics. Booths must be open and inviting, not cluttered with too many chairs, tables, products and displays obstructing the customer’s entrance.

During the event, customers are always interested in products than can be and are demonstrated, as well as the results of actual product case studies and live, on-line presentations. Presentations and products which relate directly to current industry issues (i.e., environment, energy, new standards, etc.) will stimulate greater customer interest.

SUMMARY

In the end, there is no magic formula. It boils down to; effective pre-show advertising; eye-catching, inviting displays; experienced sales personnel in the booth who speak the customers’ language; and, quick follow-up on important sales leads.*

Wayne Novak is the General Manager of ActivExpo. He can be reached at (514) 426-4010 / (800) 426-1099, or by e-mail through wnovak@activexpo.com,www.activexpo.com


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