Four ways to improve your booth at trade shows

April 11, 2011

By Kevin Henry
Editor, Proofs

I asked one exhibitor for his opinion on the main difference between IDS and American dental trade shows. His answer was simple but profound: "At IDS, people are welcomed into the booth. In the United States, we have people standing in the aisles to drag people into the booth."

It was a good and interesting thought. How much more willing are we to learn about something if it's truly our choice? Personally, I know that if I feel like someone is "selling me something," I will put up a mental wall. If I am interested in your product, I will come to you. I don't want to be coerced or swayed ... or sold.

There is a way to educate customers at trade shows without "selling them." Inspired by the environment at IDS, here are four ideas that I believe could help companies make a better impression on current and potential customers at American trade shows.

1. Is your booth inviting? Granted, we won't be setting up cafes or coffee shops inside our booths like they do in Cologne, but there are other things we can do to make customers feel welcome. Can you set up demonstrations with giveaways similar to companies such as Oral-B or Colgate? Can you hold a CE lecture in your booth? Can you do something "value-added" for a customer if he or she decides to step into your booth without being pulled in from the aisle? If so, think about reaching out to customers through dealers or an email blast to let them know what you’re offering.

2. Does your booth sell itself? Think about it ... Does your booth contain enough information that it would interest you if you knew nothing about your product? If all you are doing is telling customers your company name and the price of your product, would that draw you in? Are you clearly telling customers the benefits of your products? Think about doing something like, "the top three reasons you should have X Product in your practice," and have this clearly displayed in your booth.

3. Pretty girls may draw them in, but then what? I don't know how many times I’ve seen a dentist get "googly eyes" because a tall blonde in a short skirt talks him into coming into the booth. Then, when the dentist gets into the booth and is turned over to the salesperson, he comes to his senses and knows he has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book. This may draw a dentist in, but does it leave a good impression of the company after he leaves the booth? I have also seen dentists ask these ladies questions about the product and watched them shrug their shoulders. If they're working your booth, they should at least know a little about your product.

Also, don't forget that many dentists are female. If it appears you are only using sex to sell to male dentists, that's a double mark against you in the eyes of female customers.

4. Know who is talking about your product at which show. I have been amazed to watch people leave a lecture by Dr. Gordon Christensen and head straight to the show floor. Why? Because he talked about a product in his lecture and recommended it. Before you leave for a trade show, know which speakers are mentioning your product in their lectures. Also, make sure your booth staff is aware of this so they're ready to answer questions.

See you on the show floor...