There has been much talk lately about exhibitions as a place to engage customers rather than attempting to sell them something. So, if we are to be successful in our exhibiting ventures, it is important to understand the rules of engagement.
The word engage comes from the roots; en – “to cause a person to be in the place, condition or state; and gage – a challenge. Engagement can be defined as a discussion or dialogue between buyers and sellers where both have an opportunity to share challenges and solutions for the purpose of a mutually satisfactory resolution.
With the definition firmly in hand we now are in a stronger position to invoke the tools we need to ensure that the goal of engagement is given its best chance to succeed.
A dilemma many exhibitors face is how much information to include in their trade show display. For small exhibitors with one or two product offerings the answer can be difficult. For larger exhibitors with a multitude of products and services which might also include several departments, the answer can become a nightmare. There is often so much to tell and the exhibitor wants to make sure the visitors get the right message. The solution starts by taking a step back and looking at the display from the visitor’s perspective.
In her book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, JK Rowling wrote: “Enter, stranger, but take heed Of what awaits the sin of greed, For those who take, but do not earn, Must pay most dearly in their turn. So if you seek beneath our floors, A treasure that was never yours, Thief, you have been warned, beware Of finding more than treasure there.”
A while back I posted a question on the TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) Group on LinkedIn about the use of promotional products. There were 45 comments soon after and the discussion is still going strong. Comments ranged from those who thought promotional products were a waste of time and resources to those at the other end of the spectrum who found them very useful.
Tote bags, pens, mouse pads, lanyards, CD’s, note pads, candy, gizmo’s for your computer, stress balls, luggage tags, buttons, pins, card holders, golf tees, sweat bands, mugs… don’t you just love it? Lots of people do. Ask visitors why then attend certain shows or what they remember best and they say – “all those cool giveaways.”
You are looking for a new trade show display. You’ve been to a number of booth builders’ show rooms, seen lots of interesting ideas and now face the challenge of choosing what’s right for your organization.
This is a common dilemma and while a professional display representative can be helpful, it’s important for you to have some idea of what will work for your organization in the shows you will be exhibiting at. You now have a choice, you can be reactive and wait for your display reps to offer suggestions or you can be proactive and develop ideas of your own that your rep can incorporate into their design proposals.
According to an article on CNBC.com, the “Amazon juggernaut sets its sights on its next victim: The middleman”.The article describes how companies that are in the business of distributing products are being squeezed by companies like Amazon because “sales in general are going to the internet”.
This makes it critical for “traditional” distribution companies to differentiate through adding significant value during the buying process, through exceptional customer service, and by having a strong online presence.
Based on our experience working and engaging with distribution companies, those that don’t face the realities of changing buying behavior, and the very real threat of online companies like Amazon, will be forced to compete strictly on price.
Their survival depends on dramatically changing the way they do business. “Back-slapping relationships” and product catalogues will no longer cut it.
You Need an Online Strategy – Fast
It used to be that a great personality was enough to capture the attention of a trade show visitor. But, what worked once may not be applicable today.
We are faced with a fast changing demographic of trade show attendee. The traditional baby boomers are quickly being replaced by GenXers and Millennials who are different in many ways from their elders. They are more demanding, more skeptical and more tech savvy. Attempting to capture their attention in ways that once worked for boomers simply no longer will work. One of the techniques that is growing in popularity is the use of games. While games such as a putting contest or a draw have been used for years, today’s visitors demand more from the activities that attract them. The rock group Abba said it best in the refrain to their hit song “The Name of the Game,”