Without great booth design and excellent displays, you are unlikely to do well attracting people. But, despite what you may think, your booth display is not what matters most. Your behavior is the critical element that will help you attract visitors, make real connections, build relationships, and make sales.
We see it time and time again. A well-designed booth sits at an expo like a cage, and inside is a business owner with a bad attitude and poor etiquette. The world of trade shows might be smaller than you think. Trade show attendees who gain a reputation for being difficult to work with, rude, or otherwise unpleasant, soon find that attending future trade shows becomes difficult.
For these reasons, we recommend that you up your trade show game and get your etiquette on-point. Here’s what really matters at your expo and how to make sure you are up to speed.
Make Friends Not Enemies
It’s a given that during the expo, you’re going to be surrounded by your competition. Unless you sabotage their vehicles the night before, that’s not going to change. To compensate for the feeling of being surrounded by enemies, booth holders often keep to themselves and avoid engaging with the competition. This is a mistake.
Think of this: making friends and helping out fellow expo attendees is the key to gaining all-important insider info. Many of your competitors will be seasoned, expo professionals. They’ll have knowledge and tips to make your day go more smoothly.
If you offer assistance and friendly conversation, you’ll soon find yourself making plenty of friends in the trade show world. This can be extremely valuable if you find yourself in a tight spot and need some assistance.
Send People to Your Competitors
Not everyone is your ideal customer. Don’t expect them to be and don’t try to change them. If someone visits your booth and you feel a competitor’s products or services would be a better fit, refer the visitor to your competitor.
You might think this sounds counter-productive, but if someone is more aligned with a competitor, you could be wasting your time and theirs explaining your business to them. Referring people to competitors, when appropriate, demonstrates that you care more about satisfying your visitors’ needs than you do about your bottom line. Fostering this feeling is a great way to build your reputation. Additionally, if you’re sending people over to your competition, they will be more likely to offer the same courtesy to you, which will mean more potential customers who are good fits for your offering.
Be Accommodating to Expo Staff
Expo staff has a strict set of rules and regulations. It expects you to follow the rules, too. Responsible for organizing every trade show booth, as well as ensuring the day goes smoothly, trust us that they have even more on their plates than you do. Don’t add to their stress by hassling them to relax the rules or let you do something you shouldn’t be doing.
If an expo doesn’t allow you to use certain equipment or has height and weight restrictions, don’t try to get around them by flouting the rules. Similarly, make sure you have read and understood the instructions for the day. Don’t turn up to loading bay “A” when you should have arrived at bay “D” an hour earlier.
Most importantly, don’t give staff a hard time if they tell you to remove, alter, or change an aspect of your expo display, nor if they ask you to stop obstructing an area. There are times to be a maverick. In these circumstances, however, obey the rules, understand and follow your instructions for the day, and be cheerful and accommodating to expo staff. You’ll find yourself having a much easier time.
Treat Your Staff Well
Your booth staff is the face of your business. If they are unhappy, people will see it. There’s no quicker turn-off for visitors than being faced with grumpy, snappy staff.
Overtired, hungry, or thirsty staff won’t be happy, so it’s vital to ensure that they are not smiling through the pain but that they get adequate rest breaks to refuel and recharge.
Keep uniforms comfortable. Expo days are long, and most people stand for the duration. Don’t insist that staff wear uncomfortable shoes or clothes unless you want your visitors to feel its wrath. A branded t-shirt with black trousers and flat shoes, for example, will look professional while keeping staff comfortable.
Train Your Staff Well
If there’s one thing that’s been proven time and time again, it is that people dislike the hard sell tactic. It’s outdated, and people have wised up to it. Being pushed into giving away personal details or buying a product will ultimately damage your brand’s reputation and can repel visitors as fast as you can attract them.
Instead, train your staff to have casual, open conversations with visitors. They should be knowledgeable about the business and products so that they can explain them in detail if requested and answer any questions.
Your staff can ask for someone’s details to capture a lead, but this should take place if the circumstances allow it. Smiling and open body language also go along way. If your staff look approachable from the outset, visitors will feel much more at ease about approaching the booth, learning more about your business, and sharing their details.
Make Complaints Valid
There’s always someone at an expo who complains endlessly. There’s not much we can do about this, but make sure it isn’t you.
Despite best efforts, sometimes things don’t run smoothly. You can prepare for weeks and months and have things go not quite to plan. You must recognize this and learn not to sweat the small stuff.
The last thing you want is to become infamous for being a complainer. Making a fuss about nothing can result in you making life more difficult for yourself, and having no one want to engage with you.
By all means, raise genuine concerns or issues, but we recommend that you do so through the proper channels and in a way that’s constructive and helpful.
Whether good or bad, your attitude goes a long way. Just make sure people remember your booth for the right reasons. A great attitude and excellent etiquette will open doors and make the whole experience pleasant and more successful for you and everyone around you.