Working trade shows (Part 2)

February 21, 2013

 One thing you have to be sensitive to, when planning to work a trade show, is that your competitors might be, in fact should be, working against you. What can you do about that?

You could bar them from entering your area. That really is not feasible if you have a very large exhibit. If you have a small one, and you see someone of them hanging around, you could politely ask them to leave. If they don’t, frankly there’s nothing you can do

What else you can do is to pay attention – look at your exhibit area. Of course, it was set up to attract customers by showing them new and different things by emphasizing new features of products, etc. But by doing that are you giving away vital information to competitors?

Your approach should not be to deny them all information. That is pointless and impossible. Also, in so doing you going to deprive your customers and potential customers of information as well.

What you must do is determine what is competitively sensitive, at least for short period of time, and work to keep that away from competitors. Arrange your exhibit space to do that.

Make sure that your people will realize that their job is to talk to potential customers, actual customers, the press etc. but not to competitors. At a trade show there’s probably no such thing as a safe conversation with a competitor.

In particular, talk to your salespeople. In many industries, it is common for the sales staff to concentrate on “qualified leads”. That is all well and good, but to some salespeople this means that any person who is not immediately seen as a qualified lead is to be handed off, however gently, to someone else, very often a technical person. This is not a very good idea.

From personal experience, I can tell you that the technical staff are more than happy to talk about your product, in fact to brag about it. The problem is they could be talking to the wrong person. In addition, since they are often add-ons to the tradeshow staff, they feel somewhat neglected and easily respond to elicitation techniques.

After you have reviewed your tradeshow exhibit center, we can turn to other issues dealing with working tradeshows.

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