Look at me!
Have you ever been to a trade exhibition? Or better still, ever exhibited at one? How did you get on? Was it “worth it”?
I have just come back from International Confex 2012 in London. So many exhibitions are prefixed with International and finished with an “ex”, so this was the imaginatively named exhibition for the conference industry; the biggest get together of its type in the UK apparently. And as part of our national sales strategy we decided to give it another spin.
Before you misunderstand me I have to say that it was, largely, a positive few days out of the office and I seriously believe that, in time, it will prove “worth it”. However, the whole exhibition experience never ceases to shock me in so many ways… and we work in this industry!!
So we paid several thousand pounds to own our 3m x 2m piece of real estate in the heart of London’s Docklands for 3 days. We added to our investment to the tune of another grand, or so, by hiring some furniture, some lighting, a 13A socket and a scanner to “zap” visitors badges. And then we’ve increased our profile through another thousand pounds of advertising. We travelled to London and checked into a “cost-effective” hotel not far from the exhibition halls. And finally paid £80 to park the car for 3 days, before lovingly displaying our brochures and other goodies for all to see. We were ready to “sell”.
On the first morning we eagerly awaited our first visitors and chatted to our exhibiting neighbours, trying to assess their level of “competition” to our business. All the time looking at their stand and wondering if we should have gone for the hi-level stools after all!
When the visitors start to pass by our pitch it’s time to sell. Or is it? Does anyone actually want to buy? The first hour is spent trying desperately to make eye contact with people whose sole mission that morning seems to be to navigate their way through the entire exhibition without engaging with anyone or anything other than the cup of coffee that they have nurtured from the train station! Eye contact, it seems, could be construed as the basis for a mutually binding, multi-million pound contract!
We switched tack and moved to a safe distance to observe as the previously blind visitors stopped and took in what we had to offer, picked up literature and then hastily helped themselves to the chocolates, pens and mugs which we have carelessly left unattended!
That was never going to work so a compromise seemed like a good idea whereby we wait out of sight for a poor unsuspecting “collector” to visit our bird table and then pounce as they grasp the free mug… “Would you be interested in a chat about event production?” Most often the response is “Err… event production you say… err, actually I’m ok, thanks… bye”
We did discover a way to engage folk in conversation – I’ll tell you how if you ask me – which was surprising. On more than one occasion, once “snared” and asked about event production and with the zero eye contact challenge defeated the “client” openly explained that they had an event to organise and were looking for technical support. They often had a venue booked, knew exactly what they were after and generally had realistic budgets in mind. They were genuine buyers, looking for a supplier – hallelujah! But we’d have missed them if we had left it to them to approach us! Having a shop window is just not enough to make people buy.
So, in brief, the morale of the story is this. Don’t spend any more than you have to meet your marketplace. Find a way to get people to stop and talk to you. Identify the serious buyers quickly and talk business!!
R&B Group have lots of ideas, equipment and advice to help make your exhibiting experience a positive one, all of which we’d love to offer anyone who is interested. And for anyone that doesn’t want to engage with us to find out here’s something for free… make sure you wear sensible shoes!!!
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by R&B Group .
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