We all need new customers, and in doing that, we need for people to understand what products and services we provide. There are many ways that can happen such as having a store front location in a heavily trafficked area, an infomercial, a large display ad in a widely circulated paper or magazine, a highly performing website or blog, or a great word-of-mouth campaign.
Another way to get in front of a lot of people – with the potential to purchase something at some point – in a fairly compact amount of time is by taking a booth at a home show or trade show.
Before you sign up to have a booth, however, there are several questions that you need to ask yourself. The first one is whether this is the best marketing choice for you. It’s true that you will be in a position to have hundreds (maybe considerably more than that depending on how well attended the event is) of interested people walk by your location. It does have a fairly significant cost though that needs to be considered.
To have a booth at a show takes space rental (a 10′ by 10′ booth, normally the smallest one that is offered, represents 100 square feet) at so much per square foot. Then there’s furnishing the booth with furniture (tables and chairs or stools), carpeting, backdrops, electricity, and displays, Add in signage, brochures, and takeaway items. Before the first sale is made, a substantial amount of money will need to be committed – even if everyone on your team volunteers their time to be at the booth and saves you the manpower cost.
If you are just looking for exposure and don’t have to break even on what it costs to rent the space and attend the event, that’s one consideration. If you don’t want this to be a financial loss, you must factor in the number of sales or the amount of business you need to generate directly while at the event or indirectly from people you meet at the booth and decide to do business with you in the weeks following the show.
It can be a great way to meet many people (maybe even a year’s worth or more) who can potentially do business with you. It can also be a disappointment if you don’t get that much interest from the participants at the event.
Location is a large part – though not the only factor – in channeling people to your display. The color of your decor and signage, the items on display, and being located near a more prominent vendor in terms of display space or name recognition can all affect how many people stop by to meet with you. Some of this you can control, and some you cannot.
Once they decide to stop at your booth, you must be ready to engage people. Too many people who stand or sit in a show booth just smile or say “hi” to people walking by or slowing down to look at their display – without ever trying to engage them. Many don’t even speak to people as they walk up or get close to their booth.
You must be willing to take the initiative at speaking to people – not in an aggressive way but in a friendly approachable tone that says that you’re there to meet and talk with them about what you offer and what they might need. If there seems to be some interest in talking more, you can arrange for that. If there seems to be minimal interest, thank them for checking you out and let them go on their way.
There are other questions to consider as well such as show discounts and specials, what items or programs to feature or discuss, how many people to have staffing your booth, and collateral materials to have available.
A good idea before making the commitment to take a booth is to visit one of more shows – even from a different industry – to see what happens, watch the way the crowd moves about, and prepare yourself for what you might expect at your booth when you have one.