Can you still win when a show sucks?

I’ll never forget the story of this one client…

He was the only one at the exhibition who had an AMAZING show.

The other exhibitors were having meetings about how to lynch the organisers for a crap show.

But what our client experienced WASN’T LUCK.

It was no fluke.

So, why was he the exception?

It wasn’t because he had a cheap product everyone wanted… His company sold expensive capital equipment!

In fact he poured so much into this show, he even brought in gear from overseas. (He had so much he needed a 2 story stand)

Our client made a real go of it…

… Moving people through the sales cycle,

… Making appointments at the show

… Closing sales and writing orders on the stand.

They were the only ones run off their feet because they set the EXPECTATION. He worked his butt off!

But that’s what it’s all about right?


Are you exhibiting by hope?

You’re waiting for the doors to open… Your heart is thumping hard against your chest.

Your palms are clammy and nerves are coursing through your body like your about to go for a job interview you know you haven’t prepared for.

You feel out of your depth… An impostor. Fearful. Anxious.

Standing behind your counter, brochures at the ready, you wonder if people will actually stop and talk to you.

Hell, will people even turn up?

You forked out a small fortune for the stand space alone. Are you going to make your money back?


Why it’s so damn scary

They are expensive when compared to other marketing mediums.

According to CIER’s 2018 Report, B2B Exhibitions are 41% of the marketing spend

But there is unique value that comes from trade shows…

You get to meet a variety of players at the one time.. Customers, potential customers, suppliers, resellers, etc

(Without making a single phone call).

You have to put yourself out there for the world to see, which is scary at the best of times.

Forget what they say about not judging a book by it’s cover. That’s complete B.S.

People are going to judge you and your display.

Only because they’re looking out for themselves, managing their time and seeing if it’s worthwhile squeezing you into their schedule.


The single biggest reason people crap themselves before a show

They are falling short. And they know it.

Either their budget hasn’t stretched to where they would like… Their pre-show planning is poor (or non-existent).

Basically, they’re just winging it.

Some of their standards aren’t being met and they’re feeling it.

50% of exhibit visits are pre-planned, but only
20% of exhibitors have a pre-show plan

A lot happens before you event get to the show.

Can you honestly say that you do everything in your power to earn the best results at your exhibitions?

Are your decisions driven by your goals or merely a balancing act between aesthetics and budget?

Have you done team training specific to exhibitions?

These days too many are exhibiting by hope, which is scary considering they are responsible for such a large chunk of the marketing spend.

Here are a few useful pointers. If nothing else, I hope you find them thought provoking.

Invite your customers and prospects

Before you ask, “But why would I want current clients to visit us on the stand?”

Here’s why!

  • They will feel special that you personally invited them
  • It’s another touch point – You actually have a reason to be in contact
  • They’ll spend less time on your competitors stand
  • Something cool, I’ve found that existing customers you have a good relationship often go out of their way to promote your product on the stand to other attendees. For some reason they feel the urge to agree with a salesperson doing a demo, stepping in and assisting. Won’t happen all the time, but a lot of clients have told me it happens. Let’s call it the “Customer Phenomenon Effect”. Sounds cool at least 🙂
  • Use the show to drive sales

But, it’s different for my industry

Every industry is different.

Some are experiencing a high number of competing shows, so visitors are spreading themselves over different events.

That’s a huge reason to drive traffic to the one that you’re actually attending!

In some cases, numbers are dwindling.

You might not feel like you have as many prospects to sell to, but often the quality goes up.

Or you are left with visitors who are time poor and want to use the event as a market research day.

You will have a gut feel for what is happening in your world, but don’t make excuses.

Remember my story at the beginning. It will be whatever you make of it!

Create your own Pre-Show Action Plan

Be honest with yourself and determine what areas you need to spend more time.

Consider each of these areas and come up with 5 things you can do to improve each.

Staff – Are you happy with stand management, are conversations quality, long, short, non-existent? Are staff exhausted by the end of the show? Are some coping better than others? Have you got the right mix of personalities at the show? Are the team engaged?

Customer – Have you given then a reason to visit you? Do they even know what you do? How are they greeted? What’s the dwell time? What interactives or engagement have you got lined up? How will you communicate with them before/after the exhibition? Who’s in the pipeline? Can anyone be encouraged to make a sale at the show? See a demo?

Goals – Why are you attending? New product? Brand awareness? Make sales? Lead Generation? (TIP: If your answer is keep your boss happy or because you have to, you need to come up with a better why or your destined to for mediocre results). What are you doing towards attaining that goal at the show?

Exhibit – Does it accurately represent your brand personality? Is it clear what your key competitive advantage is? Does it flow well? Is it open and inviting? Are you finding your sales team have to stand in the aisles to speak to anyone?

Bottom line is if you’re investing the money in going, do it properly.

1 in 4 attendees decide whether to attend a show or not from the marketing material sent prior to the event.

And it’s pretty amazing that 50% will buy something they see at the show within 6 months.

I’d love to hear what’s worked for you in the past? What was it that made your attendance a success?

Yours in Exhibiting,