As business owners, we will all have to attend trade shows and set up our own booth one way or another. For those who haven’t done it yet or even those who have but found not much success with it, Ken gives some pointers on how you can up your booth game. Learn the key things that you have to take notice to make an environment where people don’t simply walk by but actually interact in your booth. Discover the value of being creative and to move your way up towards getting your trade show booth a must-visit.
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I’m going to talk a little bit about booths at trade shows. I don’t care what business you’re in. You could sell insurance, you could sell carpet, you could sell microphones. I don’t care what you do. There is a trade show or you could have a booth and kick some serious tail. You could be a financial analyst, it doesn’t matter. You could be a NASA engineer, it doesn’t matter. You could have a booth somewhere to advance your business or advance your career. I want to talk a little bit about one of the common questions I get, which is, “How do I set up my booth? What are the important things in a booth?” I’m going to hit this in a couple of different ways. First and foremost, the actual booth itself, the display, the aura, so to speak, it’s important but it’s irrelevant at the same time.
It’s critical but yet it’s unnecessary at the same time. I’ve done incredibly well at trade shows with a booth that didn’t even show up. I made a joke out of it. Billy, my brother at the first Rock Star Marketing, all he had was the skeleton of the booth. The front face never came in, so he just had an exoskeleton. We did well there. Billy played football. Is it about the booth? Not really. As Brian Tracy says, “The definition of sales is the transference of feelings.” In Billy’s case, when the booth didn’t show up, it was just the skeleton, not the front face, he went to everybody walking by, “What do you think of our booth?” and they started laughing, but it started a conversation. On the concept that my degree is graphic design, you don’t want a crappy booth.When setting up a booth in trade shows, all you have to be is creative. Click To Tweet
I would say the first thing that stands out about a booth is the quality. I don’t want you to go broke, but if you’ve got to leverage a couple grand on a professionally built booth with lights at the top, don’t think you don’t need the two light shining down, you do. In most exposition halls, the lighting’s terrible. The second thing I would recommend is very painful for people to hear is you’re going to be on your feet for a long time, suck it up, pay the $600 and get a padded carpet. We spent two days at an expo and it killed me to pay that $600 for two days. When you saw the guys come and they set it up in 35 seconds, they took it down in 35 seconds, but when people stepped in our booth, you could see a lot of people look down.
It was so comfortable. It was so professional. It makes a world of difference. Many people, they brought their own rugs. Some of the rugs were small and the generic concrete showed on the sides. It looked awful, but if you’re on a budget, like our very first booth, we didn’t have a table skirt, it was awful. The actual banner backdrop was half the size. We had a 6×8 with a 10×10 backing. It looked awful and we did well. Here’s what’s key and this is what is going to make or break your trade show, “Do people come to your booth?” It’s not about, “Do people walk by?” “No, no, no” Good trade show experts understand one week, one month, two months before the event, they start planting seeds about your booth.
The greatest trick I’ve ever heard, it’s amazing. This is the best. If you can pull this off, do it every time. I know of a booth, and I don’t remember the product, but somebody paid $600 for a $1 million insurance bond and they were raffling off $1 million for anybody that could hit a golf ball with a putter 65 feet away into a hole. What they didn’t tell you is that the 65 feet was a physical obstacle course. You had to bounce it off a wall, it had to go down this terrain, and it had to spin this way and that. The odds of it was probably ten billion to one. It was definitely legit. It was a true course and the shot could be made eventually. Here’s the key. He contacted the coordinator of the event and said, “This is what we give away at the event.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” The event coordinator said, “Can I promote this? Can I put this in the manuals? The flyers? Can we do a radio commercial?” The promoter of the event said, “Come to our event, you have a chance to win $1 million.” They can legally say that because the guy had the insurance. Think about this. This little guy selling a widget spent $800. His samples were probably only $200, but he paid $800 for insurance. There’s a great chance that 90% of everybody at that trade show stopped at this guy’s booth and hit that golf ball. You’ve got a chance to win a million bucks and he had a tremendous amount of engagement. He sold out all of his product and he’s been doing this for years.
Here’s the question, “What can you do before the event starts to engage the promoter of the trade show to promote your booth?” You’ve got to get creative. Maybe what you could do is you go to the promoter and say, “I’d like to sponsor some type of a promotion,” “What would you like?” “I don’t know.” “What would help you, Mr. Promoter?” “Let me think. If you’re going to put up $500, why don’t we do a charity auction? Why don’t we do a silent auction of some of your products?” “I don’t know.” Here’s the key. You want to chip in a couple extra bucks and if you can get away with it, you want to go to that promoter and say, “I’ll give you $500 if we raffle something off, but you’ve got to put it in the manual. You’ve got to speak it from the main stage and drive people to my booth.”Engage the promoter of the trade to promote your booth. Click To Tweet
For $500 bucks, they’ll speak for two seconds from stage. I promise you every time, I’ve paid a thousand bucks a minute for a main stage talks. Granted my products are very pricey, but I know my cost of acquisition. I know the value of a message from the promoter from the main stage. What’s it worth to you? Here’s one thing you want to drive for, I learned this from Bill Walsh. Whenever you can sponsor a small talk, a breakout session, if you know you’re going to do this trade show for years and you can put in say a $1,000 or $500 to the promoter and say, “I’d like to give you $500 or $1,000. I’d like to do a small breakout talk to maybe ten, twenty or 30 people.” That person’s going to have to promote it and put it in the program that you’re doing a breakout session, adding value on such and such topic. Something like, “How to sell better?” “How to do this?” “How to do that?”
Here’s what’s great. The next year when they put this on, they’re going to say to you, “Do you want to do that again?” or “I heard your talk was amazing. Would you like to put in a couple more bucks and have a few minutes on the main stage?” Bill Walsh has bought his way onto so many stages. He started doing so many talks on so many other people’s stage. He started his own event. He does 600 events worldwide. It’s his own event. He worked himself up to having his own conferences. It’s not necessarily about your booth, it’s about how creative can you be to drive people to your booth and see if you can set a goal for you or somebody that worked for your team to eventually speak to a breakout session or eventually speak on the main stage. That’s where the home runs are. I hope this helps. Take care.