Security installation professionals attending the 2007 ASIS conference in Las Vegas — or any other industry show for that matter — can bring back more than an armload of brochures, CDs and all those free pens.
The various security conferences provide the perfect opportunity to collect tips and ideas about what differentiates the more effective booths from the rest of the pack on the show floor. Tradeshows, of course, are a vital part of the industry and booth best practices can be just as valuable to help grow your business as the technology on display.
What’s that you say? “I’m only a small integrator and don’t have the budget for a booth that looks like a theater-style living room.”
Yes, it’s true the more memorable security tradeshow booths tend to be the two-story fortress staffed by an army of sales pros with vehicle giveaways and integrated displays. But your small booth at the local home or builder show can be just as effective.
Take for instance John Loud and his Georgia-based company LOUD Security, which is known locally as the Atlanta Braves’ security provider. The company exhibited at its first trade show earlier this year. The booth was new, the staffing limited and Loud had no idea how many new customers (if any) to expect.
Keeping a modest mindset, Loud set a goal for his booth workers to sign up eight new prospects — two for each of the booth’s four staffers. By the end of the Atlanta Home & Garden Show, however, LOUD Security had signed up 22 new customers and generated 400-plus leads. Of the follow-up appointments LOUD secured from the show, the company converted about 80 percent into actual sales.
With its bright yellow, street sign-styled signage, recognizable graphics and appealing giveaways, the booth had no trouble attracting traffic on the show floor. Organizers took notice, too, as LOUD walked away with a best-of-show award for its 10-X-20-foot display.
“I’ve never seen a group so proud,” says Loud, who had implemented a number of tradeshow tips from a fellow Honeywell First Alert Professional authorized dealer. “It was a great company morale boosting effort.”
So how can the smaller dealers and integrators make their presence known? What follows are some basic pointers to look for on the show floor.
Success Begins With Preparation
Strategize before you build; determine your company’s goals for the show. How do you know which size and setup is the best for your booth? Your company’s goals should determine every aspect of your booth, from the size to specific details. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is the booth intended to generate sales or just a nice advertisement billboard to support company branding?
- How many people do we hope to have inside the booth at any given time?
- How many new customer leads do we want to generate?
Some companies may only want to project an image with their booths. For this goal, a small, eye-catching booth with a drawing box for giveaways located in a high-traffic area can suffice. Other companies, however, need to generate sales leads and close deals. For this type of tradeshow experience, a booth must have plenty of room for people to enter. An ideal space should be at least 10 X 20-feet, preferably in a peninsula (open on three sides) or an island figure (open on four sides).
“We didn’t give in and just invest in a 10-by-10,” Loud says. “We wanted a bigger space and larger sales presence so that we could meet each customer as they walked by, not just hide behind a table.”
Emphasize the ‘WOW’ Factor
The objective is to make show attendees say “Wow!” when they see your booth. Remember, the booth and the salespeople staffing it become your company’s official image during the show. Not every company has the money to pull out all the stops like a plasma screen, integrated static display or signage that can be seen from the other side of the arena. But there are plenty of inexpensive ways to manufacture appeal. Use the booth to establish an excited, happy atmosphere that entices attendees to enter. Look to incorporate these tips:
- Use bright colors
- Signage and logos, the bigger the better
- Use your authorized dealer logos with national brand name recognition
- Include a nice prize for a drawing, such as a TV, computer, stereo or vacation (LOUD Security gave away a free security system)
- Adorning a booth with flowers and plants will lend a homey, approachable appeal
- Offer candy or some type of refreshment
Finally, consider the feet: a nicely padded carpet greatly appeals to show attendees with tired feet. This is a characteristic that just may convince a prospect to hang around in a booth for a few extra minutes. LOUD Security decided to go with triple-layered padding. “We wanted that ‘wow,’ when somebody stepped in and said ‘oh my,’” Loud says.
Work the Booth, Be Enthusiastic
Make this rule very clear to your people: A salesperson should only be sitting down if he or she is completing a deal. The sales force should never lose focus of the company’s goals for the show, whether it’s digging up new leads for home security or fire protection at the home and garden show, or promoting new installations for builders and buyers at a builder’s show.
Additionally, lay out goals for your sales force, whether they are signing up new customers at the show, setting up future appointments or registering visitors for the prize drawing. Sales representatives should have a set quota of sales or appointments in order to remain on booth duty.
Coach and lead your sales professionals to be excited and happy when a customer visits the booth. When an attendee comes by to gather giveaway details or indulge in the refreshments, they will pause for at least a moment. At that point, your staff can invite them in.
Promote the Booth During the Show
With so much ground to cover, it’s possible that many show patrons may not ever pass by your booth to notice an impressive giveaway or the cushiony retreat for weary feet. Take every option you have, therefore, to call attention to your booth in other ways.
LOUD Security, for example, decided to utilize the show patrons themselves. One of the company’s freebies included a large, yellow bag with the company logo. The bags were so large that show attendees were using them to store materials from other booths as well. Some even stored their coats in the bags.
“We engulfed everyone else’s sales bags,” Loud says. Another example: use the show’s public address system to announce your giveaway and encourage attendees to stop by and register. Announce the winners over the same PA system.
Acknowledge Your Existing Clients
Tradeshows are a great source to spawn new business, but never forget about the customers you already have.
Whenever current LOUD Security customers entered the booth, the sales team set off strobe lights, bells and whistles to call attention to their presence. After listening to the customers tell stories of how they used LOUD’s technology, the booth workers thanked them for their business.
Customers also had the chance to drop Plinko chips into a logo-shaped game board for the chance to win free monitoring or system installation credits.
Last, But Not Least … Storage
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