Last week I found myself thinking about the value of trust as I swiped through handyman listings on my phone. The gutter on our house had come away from the roof and I was looking for someone to climb up a big ladder and fix it.

I noticed that I didn’t really have to look beyond the first page because the reviews and photos helped me find someone that looked good.

It got me thinking about an article I read recently that shared the findings of the 2017 Exhibitor Trust Report and how the value of trust carries over to every aspect of life, not just exhibitions.

In this instance, I was the consumer making a decision based on the options I had in front of me. It made me ponder about my own business… Am I building enough trust with prospective clients?

In the report, which interviewed a bunch of attendees from all different industries. (Yes, these guys are yanks, but the core of what they discovered easily carries over to us Aussie’s. Keep reading!).

93% wouldn’t submit a RFP to a company they don’t trust

This statistic doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.  Picking the right person for the job is crucial.

Your stand builder is someone you build a close relationship with. You want to buddy up with someone of sound mind, who’s an expert in his or her field and is a person you can relate to. Along your journey you’re going to turn to them for advice so it needs to be someone you believe in.

The trust I had in the handyman was further strengthened over a phone call and then I got to eyeball him at the onsite quote.

My dad always told me you can tell what type of person someone is by how they maintain their car. This guy’s car was reasonably clean, but the organisation was epic – He had a ladder tied off and compartments everywhere. He got the job!

Think about the people in your life that have gained your trust. I’m willing to bet that trust was built over time. Have you also experienced meeting someone for the first time and instantly liking them? These people are warm, kind and come from a good place. Today I want to talk about ways you can build trust into your exhibition stand.

87% of exhibition attendees want to find products and people they can trust with their business

Most exhibitors forget that people walk into a show with their barriers high. They assume they are going to be sold to and go into protection mode to fight off salespeople who want to sell them stuff.

Trust focused vs Goal focused

Something magical happens when the focus on trust, instead of the sale.

To stand out from the crowd, you have to break free of the mold. If the focus is on building relationships and trust rather than capturing leads, the motivation shifts and it makes the process far more enjoyable (for both staff and visitors).

Key areas to build trust into your trade shows:

Selecting the RIGHT people for your stand:

  • Pick staff with a natural ability to build trust. The ones people naturally gravitate to.
  • You want a diverse bunch of people. If your expert isn’t personable it’s OK to bring them, but know that he or she has a particular role in the team. There’s a good chance they will feel relieved about not having to be front and center.
  • You want people who are open to improving themselves. These people happily receive feedback, which helps to improve overall performance.
  • Lose the “cool kid” attitude. Your team shouldn’t form a gang if your aim is to be approachable.
  • Staff interactions account for 85% of the visitor’s impression of your exhibit so it’s important to pick the right people!

Humanise the Experience:

  • Lose the big fat cheesy smiles. They’re off-putting.
  • Shake every visitor’s hand.
  • Make a new rule: The sale is secondary.
  • Dump the scripts. Instead have key points everyone is familiar with so they can include the right ones naturally in conversations.
  • Brainstorm conversation starters that help you identify what a visitor’s pain points are.
  • Be genuine, curious and open. Ask questions and treat them like a family member who’s asking you for advice. Help them weigh up their options and find out what their real problem is. It’s about authenticity. Put simply, it’s just about giving a sh!t.
  • Instead of thrusting a brochure at your visitor, create hands-on experiences where they can learn about your product or address a pain point (Demo/Presentation/Interactive Experience).
  • Give people what they want. What if your post-show material gave them further in-depth content on these topics rather than a generic, “thank you for visiting us” message? (Snore… and promptly delete).

Building Trust into your Stand Design:

  • Share the personality of your brand – Does the design reflect who you are? Does it make people feel a particular way about your business?
  • Make it real for your visitor by sharing case studies, which helps establish authority and the feeling of “safety in numbers”.
  • Celebrate your staff – They are the lifeblood of the business! Remember 93% of people wouldn’t submit a RFP to a company they don’t trust. Help them get to know your staff so they build trust faster.
  • Get rid of the reception counter (This is too us Vs them). You’re still allowed furniture, just re-purpose it and don’t have it as a traditional counter.
  • Keep the space open – You don’t want anyone feeling claustrophobic, either due to your design (structure or graphics) or by overloading your stand with physical product.
  • Think long and hard about putting a boardroom on your stand. If you have a particularly large stand and it’s hidden away a bit, yeh OK, but a semi-private meeting space has a better effect of visitors. They feel they aren’t dealing with a company who is going to put the hard sell on them. Instead, I would recommend inviting interested people to private events outside of the show. They will feel valued.

My handyman experience refocused me on what was important in a transaction. We all get a little blinded by the logistics sometimes. Trust is a crucial ingredient in any transaction.

What do you think would happen if in your planning you spent time thinking about who is attending the exhibition, highlighting their needs and pain points and finding ways to help them navigate them on the exhibit?

If you really want to focus on improving the results you get from your trade shows, let me help you focus on building trust into your overall exhibit plan. Get in touch for a quick chat


Reference: Exhibitor Online