Posts Tagged ‘trade show roi’

SWAG (which stands for the “Stuff We All Get”) at trade shows is enormous, yet it serves a purpose. While it can aid in getting attendees to stop by your booth, help initiate discussions, or be used as a “thank you” for coming to the booth, the main purpose is to help remind attendees about your booth and product/service after the show. In other words, it’s about post-show mind share.

Like much advertising/promotion (which is what SWAG is), some companies over-think it, some under-think it, and some don’t put any thought into it at all. With nearly 30 years of experience at trade shows for companies that range from small to Global 100 corporations, here are the most common groups and some tips to more effectively utilize the power of SWAG.

The Over-Thinkers:
It’s wonderful when an exhibit has a theme, and tying your give-away into your theme can be neat. However, primarily the people who will be aware of a booth “theme” are those who created it and possibly those who are working the booth. Attendees may notice, but they actually don’t care nor will they remember your theme.

What is most important on a giveaway is your logo and website. If you choose to have your slogan, that’s fine, too. But, keep in mind, instead of fussing over the tie-in to your theme – spend that time looking for a giveaway that will be something an attendee will actually want to take home. Any giveaway can be customized with your theme, but remember, unless it’s your slogan mark, they won’t remember your theme. Instead, focus on obtaining some SWAG that is eye-catching, interesting, fun or useful.

The Under-Thinkers:
Every year, a “new” giveaway is born and the under-thinkers jump on it not only because someone said it was new, but also because it’s an easy decision. Never mind that a bunch of other exhibits will have the same giveaway or that, as marketers, a little creativity is a good thing to use.

This group is the polar opposite of the over-thinkers and will put little thought into choosing a giveaway. Like the over-thinkers, you need to spend some time researching not the “latest and greatest,” but what would be appealing to your particular audience at the show. Think about what YOU would like to bring home or to the office.

The giveaway doesn’t have to be super expensive. There are many inexpensive, creative, eye-catching giveaways out there. You just need to do some research. As mentioned, it shouldn’t have tons of copy on it, a list of products, etc. It’s not a brochure; it’s SWAG. Keep it short and simple.

The Not-At All Thinkers:
This group usually consists of those who refuse to give away free stuff, because they don’t want a bunch of free loaders stopping by the booth. This group can also contain those who actually think that attendees don’t want free stuff!

Unless you have the hottest and latest product/service at the show, you are deluding yourself to think that your service/product is enough to entice potential customers from walking by your booth. True, some of your current customers may stop by, right before they go to your competitor’s booth that has giveaways. While they’re there, your competition can now chat with them, while you stand in your booth and check your email for the 30th time. You may get a few new attendees to drop in, but what’s the incentive?

While you will get the “tire kickers,” keep in mind that just because an attendee approaches your booth because of the free stuff, doesn’t mean they couldn’t necessarily be a good prospect. As mentioned, free stuff – if used properly in the booth – can aid in initiating conversations with reps.

Additionally, everyone likes free stuff; they just don’t like free junk or more of the same stuff that everyone else is giving away. I have been to countless high-level executive trade shows, and when we had a good giveaway, the “suits” take it. When you have a fun, unique or useful giveaway, attendees take it.

What I also find interesting about the last two groups of thinkers is that they spend a lot of time discussing signage, videos and booth design or money to sponsor the big party, a lunch or a banner and spend little to no money or time on choosing an object that an attendee can take back to his/her office or home with their company name/brand on it.

It’s highly unlikely that attendees will remember the look or design of your booth, your signs, your video or what company paid for lunch. But, when they take a piece of cool SWAG back home or to the office… now you have some mind share. It not only reminds them about your company, but, if it’s a neat giveaway, they talk about it with others back at work. It sits there on the desk or at home as a reminder of your company. That’s mind share; that’s power!

Therefore, in addition to the aforementioned benefits of using giveaways to initiate conversations or as a “thank you” for stopping at the trade show, some thought should be used when choosing your giveaways. Remember, SWAG is a small piece of advertising that gives an exhibitor the opportunity to provide current or potential customers with some mind share, after the event is over. And in today’s competitive business world … that’s the power of SWAG.

Bob Garner has nearly 30 years of experience as not only a trade show magician, but also as a consultant to many of his Fortune 1000 corporations on sales performance and trade show ROI. To see how you can increase your trade show ROI, watch his trade show magicians video.

©2013 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to post this article, but please use my byline and resource box. Thank you.


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Convention and conference planners understand that with tight budgets, the advent of web meetings, and more companies than ever before hosting their own customer events, conference trade shows have taken a bit of a hit. Some conferences have vanished, while others have had to combine with other shows in order to stay alive. True, there are some conventions that are still robust, yet the footprint of many companies at those shows has been reduced.

Despite cutbacks, one concern that affects a company’s decision to exhibit at a show is whether they receive a quantifiable ROI from their participation. While conferences do make money from attendees, they also make a huge amount from exhibitors via exhibiting fees, sponsorships, and advertising opportunities at the show. Therefore, it would be in the conference planner’s (and conference management company’s) interest to aid exhibitors in receiving that ROI. The following are a few things that meeting and conference managers can do to make that happen:

1) Non-Conflicting Show Hours:
Probably the largest complaint from exhibitors is having the exhibit floor open while there are sessions running. Oftentimes, the traffic is light to non-existent and exhibitors view this as a waste of time.

Conducting sessions concurrently during exhibit floor hours forces your attendees to choose between attending sessions (for CEUs, personal interest, etc.) and visiting exhibitor’s booths. Depending on the industry, you may be required to supply a certain amount of educational hours. However, don’t keep the hall open at those times. Instead, start the sessions earlier or open the hall later. Possibly hold a session or two in the exhibit hall. This gives attendees the freedom to attend the session, while others can visit the booths.

2) Lunch is Not Hall Time:
Some conference planners still insist on having lunch in the exhibit hall and then starting up sessions shortly thereafter. By the time attendees have gotten through the food line and have eaten, there needs to be time for those attendees to visit the booths. Try to keep the hall open – with no conflicting sessions – for an hour or more after lunch. This not only helps your exhibitors, but also aids your attendees, as they do want to spend quality time with exhibitors without being rushed.

3) Talk to Exhibitors:
Make sure your staff actually visits all of the exhibitors – not just the large booths – and asks them for feedback. Make sure that the staff listens and backs up those conversations with viable actions.

4) Trade Show Police:
While every booth should adhere to the rules, don’t go overboard and run the show like it’s the military. I have seen small exhibits attacked for minor infractions, while larger booths get carte blanche. Remember, this is a trade show where companies are competing for the time and attention of attendees. While some companies spend money and time creating ways to attract attendees, others do not – and these are the exhibits that do most of the complaining. Again, there are rules, but they need to be flexible. A trade show is not a library or a high level meeting room. There will be noise, contests, attractions, and attendees in the aisles. As long as the noise is not overbearing and the aisles are relatively clear, then let the companies do what they do, which is compete.

Following these simple steps will aid your exhibitors in realizing a higher ROI from participating at your conference. While they seem simple and logical, many conferences planners and convention planners do not take them into consideration. Hence, why many companies have lessened their footprint at trade shows or have decided not to go at all. As a conference or meeting planner, it’s important to take all parties of your event – attendees and exhibitors – into consideration. After all, both are your customer, and part of your job is to help them to come together – so that all may benefit from being at your show.

With nearly 30 years of experience at trade shows, Bob Garner has seen it all. A trade show magician with clients worldwide, Bob has also counseled many of these clients on what shows to attend and how to exhibit. As one of the most respected trade show magicians in the business, Bob helps his clients achieve a high ROI.

©2012 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. You may use this article, but you must use the byline and author resource.

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At a trade show, the goal should be to attract attendees to your booth, deliver your message and then get the attendees who are truly interested in what you have to offer into your booth to talk in more depth with your reps. That is the only way to increase trade show ROI.

Just having a “presence” is a waste of corporate dollars. I have seen large booths with no attendees in them and the trade show manager will say, “We aren’t here for leads. We just are here to be seen.” What?

If you’re not at a trade show to let attendees know what you have and why they need it, then you shouldn’t be at the show. How do you know if your competitor’s clients are unhappy and maybe looking for a change? You can wait for them to “drop in” to your booth, but is that “going after the competition?” Isn’t “going after the customer” what the Director of Sales preaches to his or her sales team?

All corporations are focused on improving the bottom line and getting qualified attendees into your booth to hear what you have to offer and giving those attendees “face time” with reps or product managers is what improves that bottom line and you can’t get that with an empty booth.

Just having a booth and waiting for attendees to “drop by” and maybe scan their card for a prize is just a waste of time and money. Is there any trade show manager who doesn’t dread hearing the question, “Why are we at this show?” or “Do we get any leads at this show and are they any good?”(And then the marketing department wonders why their trade show budget has been cut and why “trade shows” at their company are viewed so poorly. It’s because you aren’t showing a ROI.)

As a trade show magician with nearly 30 years of experience working in a variety of industries, I can tell you that my clients believe in a proactive approach to gaining mind share and generating quality leads from the shows at which they exhibit. Trade show managers enjoy reaping the benefits of having the booth with “all the buzz.” There is not a single trade show manager that doesn’t love having the booth that everyone is talking about. Sales managers and sales directors love to see me load up their booth with qualified attendees who want more information. Sales reps jump over backwards when they get to go back to their office with a high number of quality leads that they can follow up on and turn into sales. That is major ROI.

If you are looking to increase your trade show ROI and want a proactive approach to doing so, the trade show magician video below shows what I can do for your company as a trade show magician and how I can help you be the “BUZZ” at your next show.

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Selling at a trade show requires more than just showing up. Sales reps need to be proactive, which increases ROI and justifies the marketing expense. But what usually happens?

The trade show manager and marketing personnel have put together a great exhibit. The booth looks fantastic and delivers the company message. You have the pre-show meeting where you tell all the reps what is expected and then when the doors open… the reps stand around and talk to one another, play with their phones or laptops, and wait for someone to amble into the booth. (Sound familiar?) 

Worse, they only want to talk to “real buyers” and only buyers of “their particular product” or “their sales area.” The result? A low ROI, a frustrated trade show manager and marketing director, and questions as to whether trade shows are really worth the money.

Firstly, trade shows are worth the money, because any time you can get a group of potential buyers or persuaders together, relationships are made or strengthened and sales can be made. (You can’t create the same “feeling” from a webinar or teleconference – but that’s for another article.) 

Secondly, you suffer from a low ROI – not to mentioned frustrated marketing managers, trade show managers, and event managers – because your sales force may know how to sell in the field, but few know how to sell on the trade show floor

What follows sounds simple, yet few reps actually do it. So, regardless of your sells reps level of trade show experience, here are just a few things on which they need to focus at a trade show. (You may want to forward this to your reps prior to the next show.)

1) Stop looking for low hanging fruit. By low hanging fruit, I mean waiting for attendees to come to you. Get out of your booth and step into the aisles. Hold some info or DVD/CDs in your hand and engage attendees, as they walk down the aisles. You can say, “If you’re interested in (a brief sentence of what your product does), we can help you out.” Or you can say, “Are you interested in (insert above sentence)?” Engage the attendee. Smile and be friendly. 

If there is a reception counter, stand next to it and when an attendee stops, engage them in a conversation. Should an attendee walk in the booth, halt your conversation with your fellow rep about where to go to dinner and talk to the attendee. Introduce yourself and ask them, “What can I help you with?” Which leads me to…

2) It’s a team approach. If an attendee is not from your region or is interested in another product you don’t cover, take the attendee to the rep who can benefit from the conversation with that attendee. (That means don’t just point to the rep, but actaully walk the attendee to that rep and introduce them.)

Sales reps aren’t necessarily “team players.” Companies love to talk about “teamwork” and then honor the individuals who have made more sales than others with prizes, cash, etc. That’s why “teamwork” must be stressed at the pre-show meeting. Reps can help each other do more business at the show, which aids everyone. If a fellow rep won’t reciprocate, then you can stop sharing the leads with that rep. But more likely than not, your fellow rep will return the favor, if not there, at sometime in the future.

3) Get your mind off the close. Reps are focused, rightly so, on closing deals. However, at trade shows you have to relax and distance yourself from the close and work more on the “relationships” aspect, as well as educating potential customers. Why? Basic psychology: Right now, people are nervous and anxious and they can sense the same from other people. People will always gravitate to someone who is calm and relaxed, especially if they themselves are not. If you are relaxed and focused on relationships and educating the attendee, the attendee will respond with calmness and be more open to your ideas and suggestions.

Bottom line: Trade shows are powerful tools for relationship building and the on-site, real-time education of a large number of customers. As mentioned, webinars and teleconferencing are fine and have their place, but real face time and hands-on demos still and always will beat a flat screen and a dark conference room.

By being proactive at a show, you expand your opportunities. Expanding your opportunities will increase your productivity. You increase the amount of leads in your pipeline and help to generate a higher ROI from the show not only for you, but also for the whole company. In turn, this gives your marketing team the help they need to continue to help you.

For nearly 30 years, I have not only been a trade show magician who helps my clients draw attention and quality leads to their exhibits, but also a consultant to many of those clients with regard to increasing sales, ROI and sales rep productivity. These 3 tips for selling at a trade show can help trade show managers and event managers get their sales reps focused on being more proactive and more productive on the show floor, which not only will increase ROI and justify the marketing expense, but also aid reps in initiating more conversations and sales.

To see what my clients have to say about the service I provide, you can view my trade show magicians testimonials here – http://www.bobgarner.com/testimonials.html or to see how I am able to help you create a “buzz” about your booth, bring in quality leads and increase your ROI, watch the my video below:

©2013 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. Feel free to post this article, but please use my byline and resource box. Thank you.

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I was recently talking to a prospective client about using my services as a trade show magician to help them attract more attention to their exhibit.

According to the marketing manager – who was for using me – there were others at the company who thought that buying a new trade show booth would be a better way to attract more attention to their booth.

My response is what would make anyone think that attendees remember what your trade show booth looked like the past year? Remember, it may have been a year since attendees last saw your trade show exhibit. Of course, you want to have a great looking exhibit, but attendees won’t remember what your booth looked like at the last show nor will they stop at your booth based on the new look of your booth.

For example: I have worked with smaller companies that were in a 10 x 10 booth and we had consistently higher traffic and generated more interest in their product than the massive 40 x 40 and 40 x 60 booths that surrounded us. Additionally, I know that one of the larger trade show booths spent a considerable amount of money on obtaining a new booth and it still sat empty, which meant lackluster results and a lot of explaining by the marketing team when they got back to the office as to why the ROI was so low.

A new trade show booth makes the people who work at the company feel proud – and that’s fine. However, it won’t make a difference to the attendees. A trade show is about getting attendees to stop and take notice of what your company has to offer. It’s about attracting them with something unique and/or entertaining. Unless you have a new product or service that everyone at the show is going to flock to, you need to utilize something else to gain maximum attention and build a draw to your trade show exhibit.

As a trade show magician my job is to attract attention, deliver information and help generate a higher ROI via an increased quality lead count. As stated, a new booth may look great, but how effective is it to really stopping traffic and getting your message out – not to mention helping you generate quality leads? 

If you look at the cost vs results, the cost for a new trade show booth is high and the results may be far less than you desire or need to provide to show a solid ROI from the show. In these tough economic times, the money may be more wisely spent on a solid booth attraction, pre-show mailers, enhanced giveaways, and post-show follow up.

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