Exhibiting Advice for Successful Shows
The Crochet Crowd has become known for being an exceptionally busy exhibit while at Creativ Festival. We have done a couple shows as guests where we are there to meet & greet.
For some of you my advice may be old school but it works for us.
Preparation for Exhibit
The Crochet Crowd plans a show six months in advance with goals of sample creation, exhibiting sculptures and yarn ordering. The key is to put yourself as a guest on the show floor looking and shopping at your booth.
- Create a reason for people to stop and look at your booth. Create constant theme changes within your display. The worst words you will ever hear will be, “I saw that last year!” as the consumer whispers to her best friend. You’ve instantly failed to inspire and have lost an opportunity. There’s no reason a booth should look identical each and every show when it comes to creativity.
- Be prepared with signage and helpful information that doesn’t make a guest uncomfortable. We learned in our very first show, that you will be haggled and people will see the wrong signs if the prices aren’t on the products. We spend days in advance in pricing up all of our items with stickers to ensure all of the products are well labelled and there is no confusion on the prices. This makes a huge difference during check out. Truth is, some guests will intentionally try to trick the cashier in seeing a sign of a different price and with a busy show this can cause a lot of problems and bad vibes.
- Be prepared for shop lifting. Unfortunately, this is a reality of any show. It happens so you need to ensure your booth planning layout is strategic in people movement plus your team needs to keep their eyes open. Shop lifting tears into our show costs making it much harder for us. This can happen to any exhibitor.
- Use storage space that is offered by a show to get your extra products out of the visual presentation of your booth. In some shows, if your product is valuable, you will have the ability to have a locked cage for storage. Re-stock the shelves before you leave or arrive early the next day to re-stock. Try to avoid re-stocking during the show. You will wreck the flow of your exhibit if you are in the way.
- Don’t assume that everyone that visits your booth is creative. You need to be that inspirational resource with finished samples showing how to use the products or services you are showcasing. Ensure you don’t downgrade anyone’s abilities and take a moment to celebrate the creativity they do have.
- Be conscious of strollers, carts, wheel chairs and scooters. These types of items need more aisle space. A select few people use these as shopping holders as they roam your space, ensure they check out and don’t sneak out the back way. I’m not saying everyone who uses this stuff is a klepto, but I am saying we know first hand that this happens.
- Be prepared with change. Many people show up to shows with high bills and will suck your cash float dry in the constant changing of 20’s. This really can be detrimental if your products are low in price. Giving $18 in change can suck your smaller change away. ATM’s on sight will give 20’s as well. Ensure your cashier does a good balance of change. For example, instead of continually giving dimes, exchange it with 2 nickels once in a while to keep it balanced. You are better to have extra change such as 5’s and 10’s then to be left without an opportunity at the show.
Speaking from first hand experience, this is where most exhibitors fall down. There are usually opportunities for the show to help promote you but the responsibility rests on you to get the show organizers more info.
- You may have a consumer base where you can invite people to come see you at the show. Don’t forget to tell consumers you are going to this show. Use Facebook, Twitter or maybe you have a monthly newsletter that goes out to inform consumers that you will be at a particular show.
- You can offer a show deal to your existing consumers to encourage them to show up.
- Some shows allow you to participate within their marketing by providing them information and photographs for highlights of what you will be doing at the show. The shows tend to have a substantial data base and mailing list in which you can participate.
- You need to prepare an article written in your own language with appropriate photos for show organizers to consider. I’ve seen more exhibitors not do this which leaves a huge window of opportunity for the exhibitors who do participate.
- Show attendance is based on three main factors which are date, location and activities. Guests will make decisions to attend a show based on knowing who the exhibitors are. If the exhibitors are not sharing information, it can stop guests from wanting to attend as the guests won’t realize what they are going to miss by not showing up.
- Shows cannot or should not write articles for you. You know your business the best and know what deals, themes and much more that you will be doing at the show. Assuming a show organizer will know all of this information and present it to the consumers without instructions from an exhibitor is opportunities that will be missed.
- Be prepared to get this information to show organizers up to 5 months in advance of a show. The show usually has established guidelines on how many newsletters and social updates they will do prior to the show. In my experience, most exhibitors do not get information to a show organizer until the 2nd week or last week prior to a show. By this time, it is too late as the organizers have most likely finished all of the advertising newsletters and updates. They will be focused on final show logistics and it will be too late.
Live in Show
While the show is in motion, you need to adapt and make decisions really quickly. Self analyze your both and change directions.
- Though you cannot tear down your booth while a show is live, you need to be observant of traffic flow and listen to what guests are commenting about. For example, we saw more people gravitating towards one area for 5 products. We split up the products so that not everyone is in the same section of the booth. In two shows, we have actually tore down our booth after the 1st day to re-organize it based on our observations. The next show day, you start off fresh and the issues you had on the first day are non-existent.
- Organization of products is detrimental to a show. If a person wants baby yarns for us, we keep all of the baby together in one section. This allows the maximum choices to be within reach. When a booth gets busy, jumping all around a booth can be frustrating for the guest.
- Keep an eye on garbage on the floor in and around the aisles of your booth. We have a beautiful photograph of our booth and there is a white napkin on the floor. Ensure when you walk around the booth that you are keeping an eye on the floor. Though you are not responsible for the aisles in keeping them clean. It’s good etiquette to keep it all looking nice.
- Don’t jump on guests expecting them to spend at your booth. Be social first and then if opportunity exists, then educate about yourself and your display. Noticed I said educate and no sell. Don’t be pushy… be personable. Some guests may not say hello back and that’s okay. Only a few people love when a person in a store comes up and you feel pressure to buy. Don’t be that same person at a show.
- Body posture and positioning is important. If possible, DO NOT sit down. Sitting down closes your body posture. If you are going to sit, used raised stools and tables to be at the height level of the consumer. Unless you are teaching or demonstrating, we notice that sitting exhibitors tend to get walked by more.
- If working with others in a display, split up so you are not just talking to yourselves. When you see two people talking you hate to bother the conversation. Guests will continue and may not make effort to interrupt you to ask questions.
- Put away the cell phones. Don’t be the exhibitor that is more engaged in texting or surfing the net instead of being engaging with the guests. You have paid money to be there, why waste the time texting when you can do that any day of the week. Use your time wisely.
- There is a fine line of looking too busy and looking like a missed opportunity. Our displays tend to get exceptionally over-packed with consumers. Over-packed with guests can be a detriment. Busy booths give the instant assumption that something big is happening and people will gravitate towards it. We have had some guests rip us apart for being too busy. Fact is, we offer a great experience and fabulous price for our products. You cannot have it both ways. You can raise prices to satisfy the people who think it is too busy but chances are they wouldn’t shop if the prices were raised either.
Extra Bonus Points
- Help guests find things such as locations or suggest other exhibitors if the guests are looking for something specific. Take a wander around the show prior to the show opening to get a feel for where things are on the show floor.
- Have extra show maps handy just in case a guest is lost. Understand the show set up for classroom locations and/or the closest information booth on the show floor.
- Encourage creativity, even if it’s not within your specialty. Take a moment or two to listen or engage a guest about their creative experiences.
- Make a point to say hello to as many guests as possible. Get out of the comfort zone and give a guest an experience. Ask simple questions such as, “Have you been to this show before?” If they are wearing something that is potentially handmade, ask them about it. You may not gain a customer but you have created a positive experience. This could turn to your advantage in a future show when you run into the guest again.
- Try to remember guest names. Guests can be shocked if you remember their name. It’s very hard for me to do but there are certain guests that I remember and it makes their day.
Biggest Show No No’s
- We have a policy of no eating at our display. Shows tend to sell food and it’s not very inviting if a guest is walking up to you while you are trying to eat pizza or a sub! Spilling a drink on a display table is possible.
- Don’t get caught gossiping about other guests who are at the show. If you establish this within earshot of other guests, it will make you look bad and reflect on your business.
- Don’t be talking to other exhibitors about the show itself within the earshot of the guests. If you have a negative opinion about the show or other exhibitors, keep it for later. Guests may not be having the same point of view and this type of behavior can ruin a show experience for a guest.
The bottom line is that when you consider exhibiting at any show, you need to be prepared and conscious of the guests that attend. Small things that you think may not make an impact could restrict you from achieving your goals.
Most shows, it’s all about after show consumer engagement. This means new customers and new clients as a result of the show itself. Some people have a mindset that you will make a lot of money. In some cases that may be true. Realistically, shows are like your advertising budget that sometimes are a necessary evil. You have to have realistic goals and a mission.
Whatever you do, ensure you understand the show and the opportunities that come along with it. You may be totally dismissing what is available to you if the show organizers don’t prompt you for information.
Good Luck at your next show.