There was beer. A lot of beer.
It was a brewing and beverage trade fair after all but I still felt a little strange sampling the products while being all professional and talking business. Well, when in Rome, or Nuremberg…
What not to do
What tends to happen at trade shows is that the sales people on the stands are ready with their pitches. They see you slow down as you walk by and then they pounce. You ask an opening question and they’re off. Yes, they’re very happy to offer you drinks and brochures and tell you everything about their company, asking very little of you. It could turn into a Battle of the Pitch if you take a similar stance (I didn’t).
Most of the information these very capable sales people tell you, you can find on the company’s website. Which, if you’ve prepared for the show, you’ve already checked out.
Do this instead
A few people on the stands asked great questions. From my answers, it was easy to see how they could help me or how I could help them and we found a common point of discussion. I bet these sales guys made the most rewarding contacts.
Exhibiting is expensive, especially for small and medium-sized companies who can’t compete with the big names, crazy exhibits and ten-strong sales teams. And yet it’s usually the smaller companies with their genuine interest and more customised approach that get the most return on their investment.
Do you have an exhibition or event planned soon?
Attracting and retaining visitors
My advice, along with listening and adapting to your visitors (just having a normal conversation really) is to have a great story to encourage people to linger. Say, the beer tasting has a theme – the yeast was cultivated from a century-old oak keg and you’ve brought it back into use. Or you have a Frankenstein in Lederhosen everyone wants a selfie with (there’s a great story behind this model, for another time). It makes it much easier to start a conversation and sparks genuine interest.
Find a story behind your products and services and bring that to the fore. And if you want to impress your international visitors once you’ve drawn them in, have your marketing material ready in gleaming English. I’m pretty sure I know someone who could help with that. Let’s get you the best return on investment for your next trade show.