We’re heading into trade show and county fair season and I’ve been getting questions about effectively using these types of events to build your direct sales/home party plan business. You’ll make some kind of investment to get a booth at one of these events, and depending upon the event, it could be a sizeable one. That’s why it always amazes me when I see booth owners (especially direct sellers) totally wasting the money they’ve invested by not optimizing the opportunity.
I’d love to share some simple tips for how to avoid the most common pitfalls and walk away from your vendor event with a ton of leads and bookings on your calendar. Here are my top five tips:
1. Keep It Simple
Keep your display simple and eye catching. If you overload your space with too much stuff, it’s overwhelming to passers by and they may keep walking. What I’ve noticed when I attend these events is that the booth’s that have a crowd of people are generally the ones with virtually no clutter, that compel the passer by to stop and ask more about the product or service.
2. Draw People In
Make sure there’s a reason for people to stop by, and more importantly stay, at your booth. People tend to have short attention spans and there is a ton of stimulation at these events. You’re basically competing for people’s attention. Post a huge question prominently in your booth that compels people to stop and chat. I’ll give you an example. When I was an image consultant years ago I did a booth at a women’s fair and put the question, “Do You Have A Closet Full Of Clothes And Nothing To Wear?” in huge letters front and center. Every women who passed by wanted to stop and tell me how that described her and her closet. It was a great way to engage my target market in conversation.
3. Stay Front and Center
Never sit or stand behind your booth. I can’t tell you how amazed I am every year at our local county fair when I see direct sellers whom I know have paid handsomely for their booths sitting behind messy displays of their products chatting with each other or reading a book, waiting for me to step up and see if I can get their attention to ask them about their product or opportunity. Just FYI, I’ve never asked and I’ve rarely seen anyone else do it either.
You invest good money and serious time into a fair, expo, or trade show booth. So work it! Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you won’t be sitting down. If there’s a chair behind your booth when you arrive to set up, move it to the booth next to you and once you’ve gotten everything set up and stored away, don’t walk to the back of your booth again until the end of the day. You want to be out front, chatting, connecting, and working with the participants at the show.
4. Be Smart About Your Drawings
Just about every single week on the business Page I have someone ask about how to follow up with the hundreds of leads they’ve gotten the weekend before at a tradeshow or expo. I can almost guarantee that a huge percentage of those leads aren’t quality, interested people. You’re not there at that event to collect names. You’re there to collect quality leads. There’s a difference. I didn’t allow just anyone to stop by with their return address stamp, grab a handful of free candy (and while popular, this is not the smartest way to draw people into your booth), and enter my drawing.
I would engage someone in conversation, find out a little about them and their needs and whether or not my products or opportunity might be a good fit for them, and if they were, I offered to enter them into my drawing. That way, you’re sure that every lead you put into your drawing is at least mildly interested in learning more about what you have to offer (and not just the chance of getting something for free). I also made notes on those drawing slips so when I did follow up, I could have an intelligent conversation about our booth conversation and experience. You’ll meet lots of people during that event and believe me, you’ll be happy to have those notes after the fact.
5. Stay Curious in Your Conversations
As you step into conversation with passers by, start by asking, not telling. Yes, I know you’re excited about all that you have to share with them and of course, they’re curious about it or they wouldn’t be stopping by. But if you start out by barfing a bunch of information all over them about how great your product is or how much money they could make with your opportunity, you’re getting off on the wrong foot. Instead, start by asking them a question about their life (“So, where are you from?” “Are you a mom?” “What do you do for a living?”) so that you can share your information in a manner that’s relevant for them. I promise, you’ll have much more productive and meaningful conversations with people if you take this approach.
The key when you’re doing a booth at one of these events is to remember that you need to find a way to stand out. You’re there in a sea of other direct sellers and retailers and you’ve got to give people a reason to want to stop and learn more about you. Use these tips and get creative about what else you could do to make your booth and yourself stand out, and please post your ideas below. I’d love to know what you do to make sure your events are a good use of your time and money.
Need some help filling up your calendar for 2016? Grab your complimentary copy of my “Book Yourself Solid In The Next 30 Days” roadmap. It’s yours for free when you subscribe to my mailing list. Already a member of the list? My system won’t add you twice, so go ahead and grab the roadmap anyhow. Click here to grab your roadmap now!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN PRINT OR ONLINE?
You may, as long as you do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate):
Julie Anne Jones is a sought after speaker, certified life and business coach, and online trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in business. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.