Have your heard about
anyone lately using approaches other than the traditional trade show to
reach their clients and prospects? You probably have and maybe you are
already using another format or considering one.
What other alternatives
do you have available to you other than the more traditional trade show?
These other non-traditional events might take the form of private shows,
user meetings, open houses, road shows or dealer and distributor
Why the change? After
all, trade shows and non-traditional events both can
increase market share or increase share of customer, so why add another
element into the marketing mix? The fact is that some of these
non-traditional events can increase market share, but also share of
customer – and ----- they can do it better.
Why do you want to
consider these alternatives? The primary reason is to capture
mindshare. Your audience’s channels of communication are becoming
overtaxed, with the result that people are tuning out. The average adult
receives about 3000 marketing messages a day. This sounds high but think
about the more unusual places you have seen corporate messages of late –
on baggage carousels, on step risers in show halls, on pay phones or
even the back of bathroom doors in public restrooms. Consider the
current length of TV commercials – what had been 60 second or 30 second
spots are now 15, 10 or ever 5 second spots. Just to capture our
Non- traditional events
offer 7 distinct and unique benefits.
Undivided attention of attendee
Lack of competition
The ability to speak more freely
Communicate proprietary information
Conduct in-depth demonstrations- not just to
pique interest but demonstrate applicability and proof.
Educate the audience on key issues or select
topics of your choosing
Conduct more open dialogue
There are both
similarities and differences of exhibiting in this fashion. Similarities
include such things as knowing your objectives for the event, having a
theme that will create and increase memorablity, creating several simple
messages, and identifying who and how the staff will work the event, and
how the role of senior management can not only enhance but drive your
event and set the tone.
There are key
differences that not only need to be acknowledged but also addressed
with the selected staff if you are to have a successful event. They all
center around communication – how to be a good conversationalist, how to
make your visitors feel comfortable with the use of small talk, some
tips on good topics and how to prepare as well as the abilities to use
and tell stories.
So how does one prepare
to be a good conversationalist – and aren’t we doing OK just as we are?
Believe it or not, it is important that all the staff involved in the
event do the following:
Plan, prepare and practice
What will you say and how will you say it? How will you begin a
conversation, how will you direct it towards your messages, how will you
ascertain interest level?
Focus on the visitors conversation first
Be good listeners
Smile, interact, do not stand back – you are
Remember the process that must be used if it
is to work at all
Reach out- don’t wait for them
Relate to your guests, their agenda, their
interests and their needs
React and respond to what you hear, along
with your messages as well
Record that information –mentally and
What a record – all will be in vain
The primary job is to make your guests feel
Small talk? What a
turnoff – We think of it as inane, boring, a waste of time. But it is an
essential element in the non-traditional event. It is a means of finding
a fit to begin a dialogue. It’s about finding common ground or basic
needs that can be addressed. After all, you have no visual clues.
Small talk is not about us – its about them
– your guests
Small talk should be about both groups – you
Small talk is not about interrogating , but
rather, having a two way conversation – a dialogue
Small talk means finding those small clues
about them that will lead to some insight and understanding about that
Small talk is critical not boring – it gives
you cues and clues about their interests ( is this a big picture thinker
or a detail person) , their personalities ( are they flexible, rigid,
open to new ideas) and even clues to their speaking styles.
Story tellers? Why do
we need this too? This is getting very complicated. Stories are
wonderful because they are logical – they have a beginning, middle and
end. They are visual and allow the listener to see it all in their
“mind’s eye”. And finally, stories are normally about people, and people
buy your products and services regardless of complex or technical they
may be. Stories allow you to show how you have worked with other
customers, how you solved a seemingly unsolvable problem, how you
created good will or even increased their return on investment.
Certainly there are
topics of conversation to begin a communication and others that should
be avoided. Stay away from religion and politics – these can be a
problem even with close friends.
Some good “small talk”
|Events( a wedding)
|| this venue – its
A few last thoughts as
to how to overcome that awkward situation when the conversation comes to
a halt – what a horrid feeling. Consider:
O – Offer an observation (about the industry, economy, the show)
A – Ask a question – you don’t have to do all the talking
R – Reveal your thoughts, ideas or opinions (it gives them a glimpse of
what you are like so they can continue the dialogue.
non-traditional events work for you ? Do you see the need, the benefits,
the return on investment that can perhaps be more immediate than a
traditional trade show? How important is it for you to have the ability
to communicate more openly, more freely, about proprietary details of
your products and services and their applications and not have to worry
about the competition? How important could it be to have your
visitors’ undivided attention?\
If these events are
to work, you must create a complete plan, execute the event
enthusiastically and aggressively by having a trained staff that
understands the objectives of the event and follow-up thoroughly so that
you take advantage of every opportunity the event produces.