It boggles our mind how often we attend conferences and witness lifeless, ineffective exhibitor booths

We’re not talking about not having a fancy, expensive display or a pricy give away.  We’re talking about a booth with an uninterested, unengaged person staffing the booth.  Knowing how expensive it can be to exhibit at an event, including the value of the time out of the office to be there, it is insane to go through the expense and effort of an exhibit booth and not effectively run it.  Trust us, a cute jar of candy with your logo on it won’t do the trick…you have to engage the casual observer.

Here are some basic techniques:

  1. Never stand or sit behind your booth table.  Not only will you go unnoticed by bystander, but if someone does stop to talk you end up yelling at them across the table so they can hear you.  Literally, your face is blocked by your display and people are much more likely to stop when you make eye contact which is difficult to do from behind the table.
  2. Never ask “How are you today?”  Aside from being a bland question, it doesn’t engage the person.  Most will answer “fine” and then you are stuck restarting the conversation.  The few who do give you a detailed answer are typically worthless conversations of how they were stuck in traffic, spilt their coffee or got a parking ticket…all of which is irrelevant to the purpose of you being there.  If your company is presenting at any event, ask “Did you enjoy our presentation at 9am today?”  Or “Do you plan on attending the cocktail reception this evening?  Everyone is looking forward to it!”  Both of these prompt relevant response such as “I did enjoy it and I had a question.”  Or “What reception? I never received an invite” Aha, an opportunity to explain what you do.  If your company is not presenting, ask “How are you enjoying the presentations” or “How are you enjoying the exhibits here?”  “Which is your favorite?” “What did you learn?”  If you are at an event the presentations and other exhibitors are related to your industry and this opens up the opportunity to begin a relevant conversation.
  3. Know your call to action.  And have ONE.  Too often at an event we overwhelm attendees with too many calls to action or we offer none at all.  We may offer the chance to buy something, sign up for an event, make an appointment or sign up for our newsletter.  Too much!  Have ONE call to action you focus on.  And a back up if they decline.  For example, your call to action can be to make a complimentary appointment.  If they decline or hesitate, offer to send an invitation to your workshop on the topic.  But don’t initially offer both.  Offer your most effective offering, and then have a back up.
  4. Get people’s contact information.  We’d go so far as to say that your SOLE goal is to get people’s contact information.  For example, don’t just giveaway DVDs.  Take one as a sample and collect information to mail out a DVD or email a video link.  This allows you to follow up with the attendees.
  5. Keep your boss AWAY from the booth.  If you have your boss at the booth, you are giving away the goods!  Prospects will pick your boss’ brain rather than scheduling the appointment with them.  It’s easy for team members to answer questions that need to be answered and defer questions that someone should HIRE you before you answer.  It’s difficult for the boss to do this without coming across standoffish.
  6. Mingle.  The other vendors are opportunities for you to create power partners with people in your industry.   Often events we find weak on attendees are some of my most productive in the potential power partners we meet that turn into referral relationships and speaking opportunities.  You can send your boss to mingle rather than having them at the booth (see #5).
  7. Doughnuts.  We promise if you are allowed to take food nothing works better to draw a crowd than fresh baked doughnuts.  The smell permeates the room and people come.

Hopefully this provides you some basics to running an effective exhibitor booth. 

Promos and giveaways are great – but if no one can find your booth attendant because they are sitting behind the booth texting  all the gimmicks in the world aren’t worth a hill of beans!