When it comes to working conferences, there are many different thought processes. The first, of course, is that a lot of money is spent between the cost of renting the booth space, sponsorship, the actual booth itself, staffing, swag, prizes and travel expenses. Conferences are indeed a considerable investment, and everyone wants to see a return on their investment. I get it, and everyone in any participating company would be wise to understand this too.
The level of success at conferences differs from company to company. Understanding what works and what does not can help you be more successful and get a better ROI – and this can be achieved without spending any additional dollars.
Have you ever noticed dealership attendees walking around the exhibit hall with their badges facing backward? I'm sure you have. Why do you think they do that? For the most part, it is because they fear being attacked by an overly-eager exhibitor, or they have no current interest in an exhibitor’s solution. The problem is, perhaps they would be interested if they were further educated on it. With that catch-22, how are supposed to get them to listen and be excited? Well, read on.
There are three types of exhibitors at conferences. Two of them tend to see less than stellar results, while, in my experience, the third is more successful.
1. The Aggressive Exhibitor –Some vendors feel they need to be overly aggressive to get their prospects’ attention. While this may “feel” like the right strategy when competing against hundreds of other companies, for the most part, aggressive tactics just turn dealers off.
2. The Oblivious Exhibitor – The exact opposite of #1 is those exhibitors who just don't pay attention. If you walk an exhibit hall, you will undoubtedly see booth workers talking amongst themselves, on their cell phones, working on their laptops, and even eating in their booths -- utterly oblivious to all the prospects walking by.
And then there are those booths left empty for long periods. It continually amazes me to see this when I walk an exhibit floor, knowing how much time and expense has gone into that exhibitor being at the show.
Included with this type of exhibitor are those that fail to do any pre-conference promotion. No content marketing, social media, email campaigns, phone calls or ads to inform and encourage prospects to schedule a booth appointment or drop by at the show. They are then disappointed at the lack of interest.
3. The Attentive Exhibitor– In my opinion, this is the best strategy. Paying attention to the flow of traffic, talking to prospects like you would usually talk to anyone and merely asking if they are looking for your particular service (if it's apparent) or using an elevator pitch to gain their attention if you're offering a new product or service, can work wonders.
I promise that the breath mints, lighty-blinky things and most trinkets offered as swag don’t interest dealers. In fact, many of them won’t be interested in a $50 gift card for a demo unless they are, in fact, already in the market for the solution you offer.
While swag and giveaways can be useful tools, a professional greeting which includes a short description of your solution will go much further in engaging a dealer.
And, when it comes to attracting dealers with swag, the Attentive Exhibitors usually do their homework and offer giveaways that are highly desirable and create a demand. AND they have lined up appointments beforehand with a well-planned marketing strategy.
Of course, at any show, many dealers are looking for solutions. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there. But you won’t attract their interest by scaring them off or just ignoring them.
I look forward to seeing you at the 2019 NADA Show -- to your success!