A little while ago, we wrote up Andy Wilson, CEO of eDiscovery start-up Logikcull and his learning moving from a services business to a SaaS business.
The other day he copied me his Top 10 learnings over 10 Days on how to make a trade show worth your time. With trade shows in High Season now, I thought this was a good list. You may not agree with all of it (e.g., #6), but I think this is a great checklist if Dreamforce or Boxworks or wherever is your first trade show, or one of your first. Or even if it’s your 50th:
- Treat each booth visitor as an inbound lead that needs to be qualified before showing them a demo. This is our #1 learning. The booth is a physical representation of the website, and anyone in the booth is a “SIGNUP NOW” button. And when someone signs up, you don’t just show them a demo and give them the keys. You qualify them first. So, treat every “sign up” as an inbound lead, but make sure to qualify them first.
- Be creative with your booth outreach. If you want people to quickly say “no thanks” then greet them with “How’s it going?” or a “Hi there” because that’s what EVERYONE does and it’s boring and lame. If you want people to be engaged, you have to be different. Try something like, “We’re killing eDiscovery. Curious?” or “What are you doing to kill eDiscovery?” or “eDiscovery is a disaster. Want to learn more how we’re fixing it?” BE CREATIVE.
- Make a great first impression, you won’t get another one. Dress and look welcoming. You’ll notice sloppy looking booths get very little traction, because if their booth and people are sloppy, what does that say about them as a company/product? Look professional and not hungover.
- Smile and warmly greet people like a normal person. And do this without looking at their badge. Badge-gazing is a huge turnoff to a prospect. Just assume that anyone that responds to your creative, and relevant, outreach message is in your target audience. And remember to always stand looking out when people are around. Talking amongst yourselves sends a signal you don’t want to talk to anyone else, like potential customers. Don’t make that mistake.
- Give people swag. Literally, give them a bear, paper, etc. And be creative with it: “This bear is guaranteed to sooth your eDiscovery pain. Promise.” People grab swag as a way of “meeting” you, because it’s less awkward for them. It also creates a lil bit of reciprocity, which means they’re more likely to reciprocate by giving you more information about themselves, etc.
- Get business cards, not scans. People aren’t cattle. Don’t scan them. They’ll appreciate it. Obviously scanning is efficient, but it kills the experience if that’s the FIRST thing you do to someone. In fact, use this technique to your advantage. You’ll find people are so accustomed to being “scanned” that they’ll literally pull their badge out when they walk up to your booth. Tell them, “Oh. No need. We don’t sell cattle here. No need to scan you, Ma’am. [wink]”
- Use a team of 3 in the booth for a 10×10 booth. Have 2 people running demos (1 in back, 1 in front) and 1 person fishing for new leads. If you have a 4th person, use them to either capture more leads or followup with leads exiting the booth. You’d be amazed at how many great leads come in only to find out you forgot to capture their business card.
- Carry a pocket of pens and write notes on business cards. There’s a reason why we designed our cards the way we did: they’re easy to write on, because that’s what people do. They write notes on cards to remember people. Do THE EXACT SAME THING. The reason you carry a pocket of pens is to give them out to people that don’t have a pen. They’ll appreciate it (reciprocity +2).
- Schedule the demo, the REAL demo. Booth demos are flash-in-the-pan experiences that people will barely remember (no matter how AWESOME your demo was, they saw dozens all week). Without being too pushy, try and get something scheduled a week or two out. Simply use your phone calendar, add their email to a calendar invite, and send.
- Have FUN – but remember, it’s a business gathering, not a party. You’ll meet some awesome people. You’ll meet some not-so-awesome people. Just remember to have fun. Fun does not mean getting passed out drunk the night before booth duty. Fun means enjoy the experience. Enjoy the conversations. Learn from people. Hear their stories. Try and help them with their problems. Be genuinely interested in people. And make it a great show!