Tradeshow Presentations

Entrepreneurs "DIY" (Do It Yourself) Marketing Tips

June is Entrepreneurs "DIY" (Do It Yourself) Marketing month. Speakers need to effectively market their speeches and presentations. Even if you work for a company, you may be called to speak at industry conferences and trade shows - and that means you need to promote yourself. Marketing doesn't have to be expensive. Here are some free or low cost ways to promote yourself and your business.

Marketing doesn't have to be expensive. No matter how good you are, it's not how many people you know, it's who knows you that counts. So try some of these low cost marketing tips to get your message and your name out there and make sure you know how to present yourself powerfully. When you're ready to take your presentation to the next level, click here.

Stop the Verbal Vomiting

A few weeks ago I was exhibiting at a trade show and experienced a communication pattern which I now realize is not so uncommon. People would walk by the booth and I’d ask a qualifying question. If they answered affirmatively, I’d continue the conversation. One of the quickest ways to learn that someone is not a buyer is to listen to their conversational pattern. They don’t stop talking. These people don’t pick up on subtle cues such as noticing I’m moving away or using an exit line. They get caught up in their own loquaciousness.  I call it verbal vomiting.  According to wikipedia, vomiting  is “the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s stomach through the mouth." Verbal vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one’s mind through the mouth and projecting it at whoever has engaged them in discourse. One person approached me at the booth and confided that he had creative ideas but couldn’t express them as message points. He would talk in circles.  I suggested he talk it out with a writer who could interview him and capture his ideas. He loved my suggestion and asked me if I could help. “No, that’s not what I do,” I explained.  “It’s not about the money,” he countered. I told him to look for a writer and that I didn’t know anybody. He continued talking and I realized that much of the time people are just looking for free therapy. Like Joe the bartender, they want someone with whom they can share their story without any real commitment to solving the problem.  I wished him luck and walked to the  other side of the booth.

Sadly, he wasn’t the only case. Another attendee walked by the booth. It was clear in the first five seconds that he was not a prospect. Did he care? Of course, not.  He kept talking. There was no awareness that he was wasting my time or that I was bored to tears. With some people you have to be rude before they get the message.

Verbal vomiting is not limited to trade shows. A couple of years ago, I had hired a woman to do some SEO marketing. When the contract was coming to an end, Kathy (not her real name) phoned me  to renew the agreement. She talked non-stop and never came up for air. There was not even a nano second of a pause where I could interject. I called her name-”Kathy.” No answer. I tried again a little louder, “Kathy!” I screamed into the phone, “Kathy!!!” She never stopped and I don’t think she heard me. Was her phone on mute? Did she think she would sell me if she kept talking? I hung up the phone. I believe Kathy is out of business today.

This communication pattern can also cost you a job offer.  Nervous job candidates rattle on without taking a breath. Silence is frightening so they fill in the gaps with idle chatter. Here’s where many candidates derail. By talking too much they reveal information and can talk themselves into a corner. Incessant chatter conveys nervousness and a lack of preparation. A skilled interviewer will wonder what the applicant may be hiding.

If you still think you haven’t experienced verbal vomiting, then think back to your last networking meeting. We’ve all heard the person who goes on and on until the moderator has to intervene. What people don’t realize is that when it comes to communication, less is more. The listener just can’t absorb all that information. And when you drone on about yourself, you bore the audience and lose the opportunity for a relationship. Communication is not about giving a speech. It’s an exchange of ideas, a dialogue. It’s not about you. It’s about them-the audience. The best defense against this kind of communicator is to have a list of exit lines. “It’s been nice talking to you.”  “I don’t want to monopolize your time.” “I’m going to get a refill.”

Reverse peristalsis is nature’s way of ridding the body of poisons. In communication, verbal vomiting is poisonous to your audience. The antacid is to observe body language, take turns, ask questions and listen. The key to effective communication is to be listener-centered.

Presenting at Tradeshows: Lessons Learned at the NY XPO

Yesterday I presented at the NYXPO, one of the largest small business tradeshows in New York. It was my third time speaking and my second time having a tradeshow booth. My presentation, Speak Powerfully, Sell More gave small business owners tips on how to leverage speaking as a marketing strategy. I shared with the them that networking and speaking showcases were my two strongest marketing approaches.

At the booth, many lessons were learned from last year. My goal was to sell my book, Knockout Presentations, and to obtain leads for my Sendout Cards business. Here's what we now know works when presenting at tradeshows:

1. Be fully staffed. We had five people available although not at the same time. This allowed us to handle traffic and provide breaks for staffers.

2. Provide training. Exhibitors  need to know how to dress and must be well versed about the product or subject.

3. Recognize that a tradeshow exhibit is a presentation. Do not chew gum or eat in the booth. Stand and greet people with a smile. Listen more than you speak and ask questions.

4. Learn traffic patterns. We realized that the morning is slow. Traffic picked up right after I spoke and after lunch was the busiest time.

5. Do not pack up early. We signed up a couple of new people 10 minutes before closing time.

6. Provide  a demo. The three minute video was the best sales tool. Most people are visual and professional videos keep the message focused and consistent.

7. Bring  a wifi card or a phone that uses tether technology. The Javits Center is New York City is highly unionized and you must pay for everything including electricity.

Andrea, Erick, Diane and Kelly at the booth

8. Display samples. People were attracted to the cards and could feel the quality and see the variety. Selling my book  rather than using an order form allowed buyers to browse through the chapters. The touch and feel of a product is important.

9. Bring clipboards, envelopes for business cards, plenty of pens and anything else to help you organize your leads and materials.

10. Sell beyond the booth. Invite people to visit you after your seminar. Promote the booth to your list before the event.  Hand out flyers to other exhibitors. Follow up with leads in 24 hours.

11. Keep the booth simple, uncluttered and attractive. The floor length banner was easy to assemble and drew people into the booth. Put baggage under the table, behind the curtain.

12. Have a time limited offer. When people signed up at the booth they received a free gift. We learned from last year that most visitors are looking for freebies. Last year we offered a gift if they watched the demo. When we followed up they were no where to be found. This was our most important lesson. You must qualify your leads.

13. Wear comfortable shoes. There aren't a lot of chairs on the convention floor and you'll be busy working the crowd.

(I'm conducting business with my feet up today!)

Presenting At Trade Shows

Trade shows are presentations and  exhibiting is serious business. I've seen exhibitors lose sales because they didn't know how to present themselves at the booth. Follow these simple tips to increase your traffic: * Define your purpose. Why are you there? To conduct market research? To generate leads? To introduce a new product? Defining your purpose will give you a clear focus for the day.

* Project the right image. Are you upscale? Small but friendly? Specially priced? Once you agree on the company's image, define your behaviors and act accordingly.

* Set goals. Be specific. "To generate 25 new leads for hotel rooms by April 1st is measurable and specific. By setting a goal you'll be able to measure your success. * Organize the booth. Rid the booth of clutter. If you have a lot of handouts place them out of view away from the brochures. You can pull them out if needed. Don't drink coffee or eat snacks while you're in the booth; it creates an unprofessional look. Take a break and eat in the concession area. Don't read the newspaper during slow times. Remember all eyes are on you.

* Polish your presentation. Greet each person with a smile, a firm handshake, and direct eye contact. Nobody wants to buy from someone who's darting eyes are looking for the next lead. Be warm and enthusiastic. Take short notes when talking to a prospect. Don't chew gum, smoke, or chat with co-workers while you're in the booth. And never leave the booth unattended.

* Put your best foot forward. It's best to stand in front of the booth. That makes it easier to greet customers. Sitting will make you look too casual and not ready to do business.

* Promote the booth. Send invitations and advertise in advance of the event. Schedule appointments to meet with existing customers. Sponsor a fun event at your booth such as roulette or golf and watch the crowds gather.

* Don't give away the store. Instead of handing bags of premiums to everyone who walks by, ask for business cards. Keep gifts on the back table. When someone arrives, ask for a business card in exchange  for a prize.

* Prepare an opening line. Know your audience. Don't waste time talking to non-buyers. "Are you a meeting planner?' "Do you purchase computers?" "Are you a purchasing agent?" If the answer is yes you can continue your presentation. Otherwise, politely send them on their way. Your goal is to present to qualified prospects.

* Listen, listen, listen. The number one reason for losing the sale is the salesperson didn't listen. Listen for needs and wants. Most trade show presenters are too busy talking. Listening will give you the competitive edge.