- Host the Best Booth on the Planet!
- By Linda Bishop — posted 06/17/2009
Imagine you’re hosting a party and the theme is “fun, fun, fun.” You put together a huge guest list and include all your friends. You plan a menu with fabulous food and exotic drinks. The decorations fit your theme and create a festive mood, and you even have a special playlist of fun songs.
The day of the party arrives. The doorbell rings. And soon you’re hosting an enormous crowd of happy people having a wonderful time. As guests arrive, you greet them, perform introductions, and direct traffic. You’re busy, but you love it.
Since you told your friends they were welcome to bring their friends, you meet interesting new people and expand your circle. Midway through the party, you gather everyone together and announce that you’re giving out prizes. The first one goes to Tony. Everyone cheers as you hand him a brightly colored bag filled with inexpensive goodies from the local dollar store.
You hand out a few more prizes and then circulate through the room, keeping conversation flowing and making sure everyone has a good time.
The party lasts for hours. When guests finally start to leave, you thank them for coming and hand them a small favor to show your appreciation for their presence.
The next day, your friends call and e-mail with reactions:
• “That was the best party I’ve been to in a decade!”
• “I haven’t had that much fun since college.”
• “I haven’t laughed so much in years.”
• “I met so many interesting people.”
• “You were a great host, and because of that, I had a great time.”
Would you like to host a party like that? Well, you can—at your next tradeshow. All you have to do is follow these 10 easy tips:
1. Good hosts wait at the door with a smile, ready to greet guests. Sell more at tradeshows by doing the same thing. The aisle in front of your booth is the sidewalk leading up to your house, and the right-outside corner of your booth is your front door. Position yourself at this “door” and make people feel welcome.
2. Good hosts don’t spend much time on the couch. They move around, making people feel welcome and starting conversations. At a tradeshow, don’t sit behind a table and wait for prospects to come up and ask for literature. Get in the mix.
3. Good hosts are excited about throwing the party. When you’re asked to work a tradeshow, what’s in your head? Are you excited and happy, or do you view time spent in a booth as drudgery? If you spend hours in the booth wishing you were somewhere else, potential customers will pick up on your unhappiness and wish the same thing. If you’re glad to be at the show, prospects will be glad they stopped by and talked to you.
4. People are more comfortable speaking to you when they don’t feel you’re trying to sell something from the moment you meet. Good hosts chitchat. An easy way to get the conversational ball rolling is by talking to the guest about one subject you know you both have in common—the tradeshow. Try asking, “Have you attended this show before?” “Why did you come this year?” “Are you enjoying yourself?” “Are you finding the information you’re looking for?” “Do you like the location?”
5. At parties, people like good food, interesting beverages, and fun favors. I’m not suggesting that you turn your 10-by-10 booth into a buffet area, but you could give away candy bars, healthy snacks, and bottles of water. Most people who accept a freebee will feel obliged to spend a few minutes answering questions and listening to your story.
6. Walk the show. Hand out business cards and personally invite attendees to stop by your booth. When a “host” issues a personal invitation, it’s more likely to get accepted.
7. Don’t forget that people like to have fun. Find ways to provide it and generate larger, more receptive audiences for marketing messages.
8. Watch for tradeshow VIPs. They could be speakers, well-known members of the industry, or media representatives. Know their names and something about them. If you spot VIPs, be friendly and start conversations. Invite them to your booth. If they stop by, you create buzz.
9. Identify your best prospects prior to the start of the show. If they stop by your booth, treat them like guests of honor. If they don’t stop by, seek them out and extend a personal invitation to visit.
10. Good hosts promptly return calls from guests. If a prospect expresses interest, follow up and call within four days of the show’s close.
Of all the tips, the last is the most important. Call prospects while memories are fresh, interest is high, and feelings are positive. Start calls by mentioning all the fun everyone had. If you played the role of a good tradeshow host, they’ll be glad to hear from you and receptive to a conversation.
Linda Bishop is author of Selling in Tough Times and president of Thought Transformation. She can be reached at 770-846-3510; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.