How To Get The Most Out of Trade Shows Hardcover – May 1, 1999
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The only thing I really took away with this book was where to stand in your booth since other books really don't cover that. It's best to stand to the right and left of the booth (behind your table) rather than dead center. That makes sense.
However, other things about this book that bothered me was the part about marketing materials. I understand that most people will throw away literature that is shoved in their faces but you still have to have attention-getting proactive marketing materials to give away for those who WON'T throw away your stuff. Yet he never quite addresses this. He sort of suggests (but doesn't outright say it) that you shouldn't pass out any marketing materials at all. Really? Then why spend thousands renting a booth just to have an empty table with nothing for people to take away on it? That's dumb and not even something I'd consider. He basically states it costs money to have marketing materials so why waste them? If you can't afford flyers for your booth after shelling out FOR the booth then you don't belong there to begin with.
So what if people throw your marketing stuff away? Some won't. That's the point. It's just like with direct mail marketing. About 95% to 99% will throw away your direct mail piece. Between 1% and 5% will keep it, read it, then order through it. You have to have the marketing materials for that 1% to 5% otherwise you're wasting your time being at the event to begin with. You can't control who throws your stuff away but you CAN control having something to pass out to everyone for those who WANT the stuff and who will DO BUSINESS WITH YOU via remembering who you are later on through your marketing piece they took from your booth.
He doesn't really mention using other things that people WON'T throw away like pens, flash drives, etc. with your company logo and website on it. If you're so concerned with EVERYONE throwing EVERYTHING away then consider printing up pens. They are cheap yet high quality through companies online like Amsterdam and nobody throws a decent pen away. Again, this has a lot to do with the expected amount of traffic at your trade show and would be worthwhile at a smaller venue.
I do like how he talks about having enthusiasm for your product while knowing everything about it. Most booth staff look bored or miserable working a trade show booth and that's a big turn-off for potential prospects and clients coming to see what type of product or service you have. Enthusiasm should go without saying but with so many lazy lackluster employees these days, it is worth mentioning to business owners who decide it's not worth their time to work their show themselves (which is recommended) to at least have enthusiastic, excited staff working their booth. Enthusiasm alone is a huge way to suck people into your booth, even if your staff know next to nothing about your product. In fact, it's probably better to have a highly enthusiastic "actor" working your booth than a know-it-all about your product who has a scowl on his face the whole time.
I also like how the author uses (and recommends) direct mail to event attendees before the event starts and having a multi-step campaign prior to the show. Sometimes this isn't affordable if you're running a show that will attract 50,000 people. However, for smaller niche shows that expect anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 attendees, it is definitely worth getting the listing of attendees and doing a multi-step mailing to urge these people to make appointments and see you at the show. Other books don't really touch on doing this. I don't know if I'd do a multi-step campaign because it's not entirely cost-effective but I would at least send one sales letter or oversized postcard out right before the event to make prospects aware that I have a booth at the show and maybe one more after the event.
One thing this book seems to lack about setting up your booth is recommending that the table be right in the front. I've been reading a lot on this subject and most other books either recommend having the table brought more into the booth, forcing people to walk INTO your booth area or not having a table front-row-center as an obstacle at all. This author seems to be a little Old School in that he's used to working shows from the 70s and 80s or something because the way the booth set-up is seems a little outdated. (He even talks about attendees dressing casually like that's some ridiculous, outrageous "how-dare-they" mind-blowing big deal. I started thinking...is this guy from the 60s where everyone attended an event in a 3-piece suit? Because a lot has changed in this day and age!)
The other thing that bothered me was that he didn't mention any type of step-by-step means of getting leads. He talks about GETTING leads but doesn't tell you HOW. So...you have a prospect standing before you and you're supposed to do...what exactly? How do you get his or her contact information for follow-up? And no, it's not as easy as asking either. People put up a wall when it comes to giving up their contact information so you have to have some kind of reason as to why you need their name, address, and/or phone number. Would this be for a free gift or sample? What's the REASON other than you pestering them to death with sales calls later that you'd be able to get this information from them? Yet this is never covered in the book. The "idea" of getting leads is covered. Great. But people coming up to your booth and throwing their business card at you without any reason is a pipe dream and I was really hoping this book would cover how to get these valuable leads from attendees at these types of trade show events.
You can get a few tips here and there from this book but take them with a grain of salt. There are definitely better books on the subject (recommended above) and you probably shouldn't waste your time with this one at all aside from the highlights I mentioned in this review.
Good luck with your trade show!
If you are looking for a book that tells you how to design your trade show booth, this is not the right book for you. But if you are looking for a book that will help you and your sales team maximize your results, give Mr. Miller's book a shot.
We have been exhibiting at a particular industrly trade show for three years prior, but this year we followed much of the advice in this book. We had a GREAT show. I had ordered another trade show book on-line that was over four hundred pages long. That was four hundred pages too long - the other book was terrible!
This book is easy to read and the advice is practical. Measure your team's performance, watch your time with each booth visitor, qualify your leads ASAP, and remember- every trade show visitor is in a BUYING attitude! Have a great show.