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Holding Prospects at Trade Shows

By: Andy Marken

In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Getting people into your booth is half the battle. You also have to hold their attention by establishing an expectation or getting them involved.

To gain expectation, build suspense. Make the group wonder about a question and then promise the answer only if they listen. Then make certain you deliver the payoff.

Sequencing is another method of keeping people in the booth. This is simply organizing your presentation into logical segments so one builds upon the other. This permits you to present a precise, controlled message. People know where you are going and receive payoffs with each point. And the prospects generally won't leave until they have received the total payoff.

To get the prospect physically involved, have them hold the product. They will operate or study it during your discussion.

If you use verbal involvement, get the prospects to do the talking instead of making a presentation. This works because you'll do a better job of gathering information and tailoring your message to the prospects.

Visual involvement directs the customer and controls the focus of the discussion/demonstration. By pointing out things you want them to see, you focus all of their attention on your points and products.

Another type of visual involvement is a tailored A-V presentation. No one will stand and watch a 15-minute slide presentation or videotape, but they will watch a tightly produced two- to five-minute presentation.

One thing you can't afford to do is to permit people to leave your booth until you have determined whether or not they are viable prospects. Don't let people come in and stand around without being helped, even if you are tied up with someone else. Interrupt your discussion, acknowledge the individuals and tell them someone will be with them in a few moments.

Eye contact, a smile and a gesture obligates them to stay...just don't take too long.

While they are waiting, give them something to do. Have them study a specific section of a brochure or view the A-V presentation, but keep an eye on them. If you see their interest waning (assuming you haven't already gotten to them), get back to them.

Getting Rid of Visitors

Obviously, at a show you don't have the luxury of spending as much time with each individual as you might like. You have to make time for the "hot" prospects, but the others will be in and out of the booth. The key is to determine their level of interest. If it is low, move on to more fertile ground.

Most people will leave after a demonstration, so summarize to let them know that you are finished. I you can't close and can't seem to "shake" the individual, use prearranged sign language to attract assistance from someone else in the booth. This provides you with an easy and courteous method of excusing yourself without leaving a sour taste in the visitor's mouth or leaving him or her with a poor impression of the organization.

© Copyright 2001, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications

Other Articles by Andy Marken

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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