What’s Your Most Important Trade Show Exhibit Asset?
As a trade show booth designers, we at MC² would love to say the exhibit is your most important asset. But as important as an exhibit is in reflecting your brand and implementing your marketing strategy in a positive manner, it's the exhibit staff that's your most important asset.
So why is it, according to a CEIR research study The Role and Value of Face to Face Interaction, that 50% of exhibitors never or rarely train their exhibit staff?
Not surprisingly the same study revealed that 94% of attendees in the study valued product and solution knowledge the most. A very close second (92%) was the perceived willingness of the staff to provide that information. And by that, they mean the attitude of the booth staff. So, 50% of exhibitors simply send their staff to expensive exhibits and hope they do well.
In our current digital world, face-to-face opportunities are becoming rare and even more important. The same CEIR study showed that 8 out of 10 trade show attendees rate face to face interactions with vendors as extremely or very important to performing their own jobs. The importance of a well-trained exhibit staff has never been more critical. New staff should be well trained and even veteran staff needs refreshers.
Here are a few points that will help you build a meaningful exhibit booth training program.
Don't Forget the Basics
A staff knowledgeable about the products or services you offer is a given, but the basics are also important. Sometimes we need a refresher on how to make a visitor feel welcome. We also need to maintain the booth in proper order to make the right impression. A list of your expectations for staff behavior will go a long way in making the right impression with your attendees.
Share your strategy
It's important that all exhibit staff understand your marketing strategy and the goals you have set for your participation in the trade show. These goals should be measurable so you can also share the results and adjust accordingly. Stephen Covey says “Begin with the end in mind.” It's in your best interest to be sure your staff knows the end you have in mind.
See through the attendee's eyes
There's no doubt about it, creating an event such as a trade show is complicated. It's easy to get caught up in the details of planning and implementation making you spend less time thinking about your attendees. It helps to pause during the planning stage and try to see the event through your attendee's eyes.
What are their expectations for attending the trade show? How will your content give them what they need to move closer to additional or new sales? What do they desire from the face-to-face encounter with your staff? These are all questions that can be answered through pre-show surveys. Once you have the answers you can build content and experiences that match an attendee's desires.
It also helps to review and adjust your staff's approach by using a trick from the retailer's playbook. Have secret attendees (retailers call them secret shoppers) visit your booth and to report back on their experiences.
One final thought.
Exhibit booth staff selection is very important. According to the CEIR study most attendees prefer to meet exhibit personnel who are in sales, marketing or technical positions. The same study shows that technical staff, R&D, engineers, etc., is grossly underrepresented at most trade shows.
The CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) report is available for a fee for non-members. Consider joining and all CEIR research is free.