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Do Your Booth Attendees Feel Like They Belong?

“Throughout history, humans have been connected through group experience: hunting together, building together, parenting together … Marketing can make a profound impact when it says ‘yes, you belong,’ bypassing the need for ‘proof.’ ”   Forbes Community Voice – May 2017 This quote was taken from a… learn more >

Does Your In-Booth Demo Make Sense?

“Sensemaking” is the process by which people give meaning to experience. This concept has made the rounds of Information Science for decades, and has been applied to various disciplines, most notably by Karl E. Weik who applied it to “Organizations.”  He defined sensemaking in organizations as a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests.

Mr. Weik went so far as to define seven different properties of sensemaking.  They include; Identity, Retrospection; How people frame their environment with dialogues and narratives; Its social nature; How it’s an ongoing process; How people extract cues from their interactions; and finally, how people favor plausibility above accuracy.

All very interesting. And of course, after exploring these properties, I applied them to my area of expertise … trade shows and event engagements.  Upon reflection, I was prompted to focus my gaze on a specific area … in-booth demos.

The in-booth demo, for me, can be one of the most powerful tools in an exhibitor’s arsenal.  It is perhaps the #1 way you can help your target audience make sense of not only your product or service, but of your brand message in general.

In-booth Demos must recognize and define the identity of these watching; they must be driven by compelling narratives and dialogues that create a social environment from which those watching may extract powerful cues, and how … and this is most important … audiences must regard the claims being made during a demo as plausible.

Of course, what I’ve just listed is often the opposite of what occurs in a trade show setting.  Product Managers are often tasked with making all of this happen without receiving the proper training or support.  Performing before an audience 10-14x per day was not in their job description; but no matter, the task of gathering, engaging, educating, and connecting attendees with reps is routinely thrust upon them.

This is why I urge anyone reading this, who controls their in-booth demos, to seek help when implementing them.  This could be in the form of a Facilitated Demo program, or by initiating Presentation Training to help your Product Manager(s) learn the skills they need to cut through the clutter on a show floor, and help their audiences “make sense” of the information they’re sharing.

When you do, everyone wins … your Product Managers present satisfying and successful demos, and your attendees have a meaningful experience that helps them make “sense” of your brand and message.

It’s the only sensible thing to do.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to the Trade Show “Ask”

In a recent Exhibitor Magazine article entitled “Asked & Answered,” John Baker (former SVP and COO of American Express) discussed the power of persuasion and shared his “6-Step Asking Formula” for getting what you want, every time.

This formula defined a clear procedure that professionals could follow when “asking” their superiors for something, e.g. a raise, extra resources for their department, or larger budgets for key projects.

Here are the 6 Steps in brief:

Step One:    Define clear objectives … know exactly what you want

Step Two:    Clearly ask for it.  Don’t be coy … come out with it;

Step Three: Support your “ask” visually when possible, i.e. photos, charts, etc.

Step Four:    Strengthen your “ask” with “best reasons,” i.e. what’s in it for them.

Step Five:    Stop Talking.  Be quiet, reflect confidence, and gather feedback.

Step Six:      Share.  Provide additional details when appropriate.

Intuitive and useful?  Certainly.  What struck me most about this process, though, was how it could also guide your trade show attendee interactions.  For example:

Step One: Fully define the message you want to communicate to attendees.  You cannot communicate everything about your brand in one interaction; define the 1-3 messages you want attendees to remember, and stick to them.

Steps Two and Three go together.  Many exhibitors do a good job of using printed and digital visuals to support their messages.  However, what they often do not do well is clearly communicate what they want attendees to actually do when they are in the exhibit, and after they leave.

Step Four:  All interactions should focus less on what a product or service does, and more on what it can do for the attendee. Keep things “them” focused.”

Step Five:  Trade show booth reps are often highly energized and “amped up.”  The result is a booth rep who talks “at” an attendee … endlessly … rather than “to” or “with” them.  The attendee never gets a word in edgewise.  When rehearsing your interactions, plan for a time when you stop talking and listen.

Step Six takes the conversation to the next level, either at the show or in a future meeting. You are, in essence, moving the lead down the sales funnel.

The process seems simple, doesn’t it?  And, in a way, it is simple … how like riding a bike is simple … but how it takes a great deal of trial & error, and time, and mindshare to make happen.

The main takeaway here is … treat attendees like real people. Know what you want them learn, know what you want them do, then “ask” them to do it.

Of course, all of these steps should be performed on qualified leads … but that’s another topic altogether.

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What Do Today’s Trade Show Attendees Want?

CEIR (The Center for Exhibition Industry Research) recently released their latest “Attendee Retention Insights” Report that analyzes why attendees become loyal visitors to events, and what organizers are doing to motivate attendees to return on a regular basis.

Trade show exhibitors may feel that this report does not speak to their specific needs. However, when read strategically, I feel it speaks volumes to exhibitors … especially when you extrapolate new insights.  For example, CEIR found that:

93% of attendees want to attend education sessions with formats of 45 minutes and 15 minutes for Q&A. 93% of attendees want to hear from professionals or peers in their field. 89% of attendees want to attend sessions on industry trends

Interesting, certainly, but let’s view this organizer-centric data through an exhibitor’s lens:

Attendees like their education short, informative, and interactive. Attendees want their information to come from credible sources. Attendees crave current, industry context for their messaging.

As you can see, this type of analysis offers exhibitors valuable guidance as they create their in-booth engagement programs. It also explains why one of the more popular in-booth engagement strategies on the show floor today is The Facilitated Demo.

In short, a Facilitated Demo has an in-house expert demonstrate a product (everything from drill bits to CT scanners and everything in-between). However, to amplify this demo and to place it in a relevant industry and brand context, a Professional Presenter frames it with high-level brand messaging, manages audience Q&A, delivers a powerful call-to-action at the demo’s conclusion, and facilitates the connection between attendees with reps.

In short, a Facilitated Demo transforms a simple product how-to, into a rich brand experience.

Go here for a deeper dive into Facilitated Demos.

But what about the CEIR data? Facilitated Demos satisfy each attendee desire:

They are short, highly informative, and interactive. They enable attendees to learn from and connect with experts in the field. They frame the demo with industry trends, and address specific attendee needs and challenges.

Finally, the CEIR Study found that 92% of all returning attendees play a role in final decision-making … with over half being final decision makers.

This means it is more important than ever for exhibitors to make their in-booth engagement strategies as informative, interactive, and credible as possible.

The data says it all.

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When Only Face-to-Face Will Do

Ever since the onset of the Web and video conferencing and virtual trade shows, people have predicted the demise of the in-person trade shows, meetings and other face-t-face interactions.  Read what three 2016 studies reveal about today’s attitude on in-person communications, view the document……

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Make Sure Trade Show Marketing Fuels Sales

There is a historic “disconnect” between what sales wants and what marketing delivers. Much has been written about how to fix it.  However, for many, marketing and sales alignment has proven to be elusive.

According to a recent survey by SiriusDecisions, the biggest inhibitor salespeople see to achieving their quota is the inability to communicate value messages.  Here are four industry best practices in brief. view the document……

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How To Do Trade Show Interactive Right

Racing simulators. Game shows. Green screen photos. Vending machines. Augmented or virtual reality. What do all of these things have in common? They’re all examples of interactive in=booth experiences.

Interactive experiences can make a small booth mighty and a large booth exhibit magnificent. But too many times, booth experiences are not tied to business strategies.  Find out how to tie it all together, view the document…view the document……

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Getting What You Want From Your Trade Show Investment

If you’re like most organizations, you already follow industry best practices. You import trade show leads into your CRM. You segment leads by key accounts. You accelerate fulfillment with your mailing automation system. Still, your trade show leads don’t lead to sales. So how do you make your tradeshows… learn more >

Social Media & Tradeshows: 3 Best Practices

Facebook, LinkedIn, ShapChat, Instagram, et al, all have one thing in common; they crave content. To satisfy this need, savvy marketers across most verticals are leveraging their tradeshows and events to capture customer testimonials, live product demos, expert interview, PR roll-outs and much more. This… learn more >

Effective Executive Presentations Require Deep Empathy

The Empathy Business in the U.K. measures and embeds empathy in the world’s biggest companies. Their work shows that empathy is positively correlated with growth, productivity and earnings. The top 10 companies in their Global Empathy Index increased in value more than twice as much… learn more >

Record Breaking Winter 2016-2017

If you feel like something’s missing this winter, it could be that you’re just not used to going two full months without snow in Chicago. But indeed, we’re coming up on 58 consecutive days without even one inch of snowfall over the course of the… learn more >

Take a Tip from Millennials

What can Millennials teach us about engagement? A lot! In a recent study by Deloitte, Millennials said businesses who want to engage them should: Focus on people and purpose, not products and profits. Find ways to show you are socially responsible. Speak with them, not at them. Add a… learn more >

Call In the Hired Guns

Have you ever noticed that your tradeshow booth reps spend the majority of their time talking with current customers?  The reason is not hard to deduce; this is a good use of their time.   However, one of the primary objective of any tradeshow exhibit is… learn more >