As a business consultant my job is to create networks or expand networks for expanding companies in order to ensure effective business growth. I support and train the marketing teams many of whom are university graduates with no practical experience.
This is face to face marketing where I excel.
One of the many ways that I succeed is attending business expos nationwide and speak to and meeting new people.
Also working alongside the marketing team on the stand, usually as the hooker.
This is a skill that I have employed for many years and I do it very well. However, some of the companies that I see exhibiting are clueless in the extreme and do not get what exhibiting is all about. They simply waste a fortune and will tell you that the expo was useless when in fact THEY are useless because they don’t know how to attend successfully.
There are various reasons for exhibiting and the company, having decided to take a stand has to engage a clear strategy as to what they are looking to achieve, new clients or business expansion or just high visibility because the opposition are there.
Currently I am consulting for a firm of very professional Chartered Accountants who have a couple of very strong selling points that make them a very exciting practise.
There are three vital marketing strategies that you must engage in order to maximise your success at the expo.
The first is called Pre-Exhibition marketing.
You must get the list of registrations from the organisers and communicate with them. You must earmark potential new clients and existing clients to ensure that you welcome them.
Invite them to a stand meeting as it’s a great opportunity to communicate new or improved products.
Have something special to tell everyone. What areas you are expanding and growing, new products that you have. Special offers for exhibition attendees only.
Give aways really piss me off. Why put pens, pads, note books sweets, chocs and whatever other crap onto your stand when these items do not relate to what you do.
Someone at the company that I represent bought 5 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. WHY? When we are Accountants. The attendees declined them (I didn’t as I love them) they didn’t want sticky fingers and we finished up with 4 boxes over.
Another pet hate of mine is the ‘win a prize’ by putting your card into a vessel. WTF is that about??? Engage, talk to people that’s why you are there.
You only put products on the stand that are relevant to YOUR business, your brochures and your business cards. End of!
The second is At the Expo.
The people attending from your company or an outside agency must be fully informed about what you do and the products that you are presenting.
There has to be a team comprising:
• A hooker or hook
• A spotter
• A grader
• A further meeting arranger
The hooker engages with people, the hook could be a magician or similar to make people stop at your stand.
The spotter, who could also be the hooker has to know your clients or potentially new clients. Don’t let them go past without engaging with them. Why are they attending. To replace you?? Are they happy with your services/products??
The grader decides if there is a synergy and the meeting arranger does what I have been teaching you at networking masterclasses.
Selling at some expos is not a great idea it takes time and by spending time with one person you could be missing a vital opportunity with another.
Post expo marketing.
There is no reason to be there, collecting cards and not following up. I do the follow up a couple of days later after the dust has settled and create a database with a comments section. Also, it is essential to grade the connections.
The other side show is speed networking.
Last week I caved in and joined another 29 people spending about one very noisy hour meeting very nice people, many of whom had left their stands, to scream over the noise and try to deliver an elevator pitch.
I finished up with a pocket full of business cards from people who are of no business use to me AND a banging head.
My advice is to not engage in this folly. You cannot make any impact as you are time restricted and you are trying to shout above the others there.
FORGET SPEED NETWORKING.
A great place to engage is the coffee bar or food area. Join other at a table and start asking the questions that I raise in the masterclass.
This is a very brief overview. If you want a meeting email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07874 160944