Ideas fresh off the wire

Look Alive People, Look Alive

On the show floor of Internet Retailer Conference 2016

It’s that time of year again when all the brightest minds in e-commerce and retail come together for the annual Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago. We’ve seen the show grow tremendously over the years and, as expected, this year was even bigger and better than the last.

We spent a day walking the show floor of the exhibitor hall to get a pulse on the latest trends in e-commerce and the activity happening behind the scenes. In the process, we noticed a few trends that we thought would be helpful to share for exhibitors on trade show dos and don’ts. Here are a few takeaways that topped our list of observations:

Do:

  • Spend money on booth design and décor: You are spending significant resources, including money, talent and time, to exhibit at a conference so make sure to milk it for all it’s worth. At IRCE, there were dozens of booths with lackluster signage, minimal staff and dreary backdrops and color schemes. It’s surprising considering that something as simple as using bright colors can catch one’s attention and compel a stop by, not just a walk by. Be serious about exhibiting. If you are investing tens of thousands of dollars going to a tradeshow, have an inventive and effective booth so the right people can find you.
  • Free food and drinks will never be passé: Who can say no to free food and drinks, especially after being on your feet for hours on end? One company this year offered Bloody Mary’s and they were the hit of the show. In fact, we found ourselves on a goose chase in search of the satiating cocktail. It might be the oldest trick in the book but this type of incentive is always sure to lure prospects to your booth. Another company, Meridian, offered truffles in a mock Tiffany’s blue box as a thank you for stopping by.

Truffles in a mock Tiffany’s blue box

  • Invest in trade show messaging and training: As communication professionals, we were surprised at how many sales people could not simply articulate what their company did or how it’s unique from competitors. Remember, that if you use industry jargon, your prospects may be quick to look for an emergency exit. Prospects want to know in a simple way how they can benefit from your product or service. Make sure you make the most of your tradeshow experience and go the extra mile to properly train your spokespeople so they can seal the deal.

Don’t:

  • No Catnaps Allowed: We get it. Tradeshows are exhausting, but boy did we pass a lot of tired looking folks. Just like having a beautiful booth attracts prospects, so does a big smile on your sales reps’ faces. You might not get concerned when you don’t see a prospect that’s a high- value target, but you never know when someone is scouting your company from afar.
  • Don’t push marketing flyers: Marketing flyers are out, or they should be.  Several times, sales reps referred us to their brochures when we asked a question they couldn’t answer. But prospects are there to learn face-to-face what makes your company stand out. If they wanted to look at your marketing sell sheet, they could do so just as easily from the comfort of their office. Ditch the marketing flyers and sell sheets altogether—focus on making a personal connection.
  • If your messaging doesn’t stand out, you need something more. While on the hunt for stand out companies, we started to notice that everyone’s messaging was one and the same. Do something more to stand out from the pack whether it be a unique booth display or a marketing gimmick. Selfies or Magicians anyone?

What other trade show do’s and don’ts come to mind from your experiences? Share your story!

Nikki Plati and Carolyn Adams pose for photobooth pictures

Nikki Plati and Carolyn Adams pose at the Pitney Bowes photobooth

Special thanks to Carolyn Adams for contributing to this piece