Q. What's the single, biggest change exhibitors can make to move more prospects
closer to a buying?
A. Exhibiting firms can make their most credible, "main differentiating benefit" the
most obvious, prominent (aka BIG) message in everything they display, give away, or
Problem: Exhibiting staff rarely get to have a pivotal role in creating their exhibit,
"uniform" clothing or collateral material.
If you are reading this article, you may be facing this situation. Read on and you'll
find some ways to overcome the inadvertent barriers put in the way of your sales
First, consider these points:
1. Are you giving your prospects the single most important piece of information
they most need to know to buy? How easy is it for them to see that information,
and how credibly is it stated.
2. Exactly how can you help attendees make an informed choice and act sooner?
3. How many steps do even "warm" buyers take to complete the sale, from signing
to delivery through possible training on the use of the product or service? How can
you reduce that number?
4. Specifically, how do you help your buyers become obvious heroes to their
significant decision makers at their work place, from their boss to the people they
sell to and/or serve?
Don't bury the key reason to buy.
After walking through over 100 trade shows prior to speaking to exhibitors, I've
discovered that the exhibitors' message is rarely the key headline prospective
buyers most need to know. That essential message is the main differentiating
benefit between an exhibitor's product or service and that of the top two or three
alternative vendors, as the prospect most probably views their options.
Instead, exhibits and promotional materials usually give more prominence to the
name of the product and/or the company.
Attendees rarely see or hear about an exhibitor's
main benefit first.
Benefits rarely "jump out" at attendees from the booth or collateral messages or the
staff's explanation. Thus, exhibitors inadvertently hide their biggest benefit.
In most cases, features (how a product is constructed or its "capacity" or how it is
operated) are still promoted more heavily than benefits (what the product does for
the customer). This is not customer-centered, thoughtful marketing. The prospect
has to do more work to make a fair comparison.
Exhibitors can offer succinct, specific, and easy-to-follow comparison sheets that
do not insult the competition. One comparison sheet might "headline" the major
benefits. Other back-up sheets can provide more detailed comparisons. Put a
"human face" on the facts by providing customers' situational examples to illustrate
Plus, exhibitors often attempt to build traffic to their booth with contests, drawings,
or giveaway gadgets that don't relate to their main, differentiating benefit or even
their product, so they don't get closer to their hottest prospects.
Further, staff's icebreaker comments are often general and not relevant to the
reason to buy ("Having a good time?" "Want a free..?").
Unfortunately, those who staff an exhibit seldom get to be involved in the design of
their exhibit or promotional materials - or even what they wear. They must accept
the setting in which they sell, attempting to engage prospects as they pass with
involving comments that state the main benefits verbally to attendees in a brief,
involving way to pull them in rather than turn them off.
When companies don't make their main benefit easy to see and hear quickly,
attendees must be deeply motivated to look and ask for the essential information
Credible benefit statements increase the chances for a sale. A credible brand name
then reinforces the reason to buy, not the other way around. Good benefit
statements are vivid and specific examples, facts, and comparisons. Passersby are in
one of three buying modes:
1. Seeking information to buy a certain kind of product for the first time and trying
to select the best product
2. Considering changing vendors if they find a better product
a. not buying now but seeing what is new for future reference
b. or without the budget or need and will never buy
Serious buyers most want to see and hear information regarding:
a. the main reason to buy at all and, if they do buy
b. the main reason they should buy from you over your closest competitors, as they
26 Ways to Attract Serious Buyers to Your Booth
? and Move Them Closer to Buying
(Don't forget to see the last two tips, now made possible
by new and free technology)
1. Draft and memorize a one-to-two-sentence top "differentiating benefit"
statement, relative to your two closest competitors and without denigrating the
competition. When you can weave it into conversation, you have created a shorter
path to their buying process. Get tips on how by reading "Grab Their Attention"
2. Start with the specific benefit rather than building up to it with general
background, so the listener will listen sooner and longer. The specific detail
("Product with the fewest parts that need replacement") proves the general benefit.
The general statement ("We are the people who care") is less credible and less
3. Multiply attendees' positive exposures to your benefit in everything you say,
display, point at, stand near, or offer.
4. Condense further to intensify attention. Be able to reduce that benefit to its
essence in one vivid phrase, motto, slogan, or sentence. Get more ideas by reading
"Speak English Like it Tastes Good"
5. Make your phrase sufficiently interesting and brief so they feel they're in charge.
They'll be more likely to stay and ask you enough questions so you can recognize
their main interests, level of knowledge, hot buttons, and decision-making process.
6. Offer "real life" situational examples. Cite relevant and diverse customers'
experiences. Tell them what your customers actually said and did with your product
or service that helped them, how.
7. Give no more than three supportive benefits.
8. Express each supportive benefit like a headline, a "billboard message" of no more
than five to eight words.
9. Use everyday, non-jargon, and non-industry-specific language, even if the
attendees might know the jargon. Could and would the disinterested spouse of the
attendee or conference hall maintenance staff understand it?
10. The most credible proof of your benefits are third-party endorsements of three
diverse customers who have little else in common other than their adoration of your
product and their similarity with your prospect.
11. Display a satisfied client's quotes under each benefit on the booth and in
promotional material -- preferably each in a different color and type face. When
endorsements relate to a specific situation, change, vivid contrast, or improvement,
their words are most credible and will be most memorable.
12. Yes! Remove all graphics and words and materials in the booth that do not
relate to either the main benefit and (not more than three) supportive benefits, so
attendees will be able to take in the information within 12-15 seconds, their
average pause-to-scan time in such conditions. Really! Try it and you'll become a
believer in brevity for more selling power.
13. Display your main point and supportive points on the booth above the heads of
the booth staff and attendees, so attendees' views are not blocked.
14. Booth visuals and words should guide attendees' eyes down a "path" from one
message to the next.
15. Again, this is controversial except to those who've given up these unhelpful
habits. Avoid opening references to weather, "Having fun?", freebies, drawings, or
other non-benefit-related topics that distract and dilute your relationship with your
16. Verbally and visually make a "Conference Offer": more information; a time-
limited or bundled product order price; consultation; or other vivid benefit to move
them closer to a sale.
17. An attendee's attention span is shortened if you wear patterned or very detailed
clothing or accessories (pin, necklace, tie, earrings) or other busy "body signage,"
especially on the upper half of your body.
18. For those who know your product (and you know that they are familiar with it):
a. Hand the person a gift (preferably one that does not prominently display your
company or product name), while asking them: "May I give you this small gift for
taking the time to answer two questions for me?"
b. Then ask, "What do you like best about our product or (service)?" Whatever is said
aloud is then believed more deeply by the speaker.
c. Be a complete and supportive listener as they explain. Give uninterrupted eye
contact, nod, or offer other responsive gestures that are natural for you.
d. When they have finished, ask, "Tell me more about that." As they elaborate, they
move the topic closer to the top of their minds and they also become more:
- articulate and vivid
- deeply convinced about the reasons they've stated for liking your product.
The result? You've moved them closer to being fervent and articulate fans. They are
more likely to talk themselves closer to a sale and voluntarily tell others why they
like your product.
19. When you first meet a prospect, find the quality in them you can most like and
admire and keep it uppermost in your mind as you talk with them. You are more
likely to bring out that aspect of their personality when they are around you and less
likely to react to their behaviors that irritate or otherwise bother you.
20. When you stand opposite someone, you are more likely to literally oppose them.
Instead, "sidle" whenever possible.
Men instinctively "sidle" when together, shaking hands and then standing more or
less side by side. Women instinctively continue to face each other or a man. When
standing side-by-side, people feel more comfortable with each other, themselves,
and their surroundings. They listen sooner and longer and are more inclined to
agree with each other.
21. Do people sometimes stop listening before you stop talking?
Here's help. Get people to remember what you say, even if they are not trying to.
Here are two successful ways to "lodge" your message in their minds, even if they
were NOT actively listening:
A. People remember more and feel more intensely -- for good and for bad -- when
they are in motion. Say your main points while you're turning, shaking hands,
demonstrating a product, or pointing to something, when a part of the booth is in
motion, and/or while the visitor is reaching for something.
Here are two guides to the kinds of motion that are most memorable:
a) Things are most memorable when you're both in motion, next most
memorable when the other person is in motion even if you aren't, third most
memorable when you are in motion, and fourth most memorable when you are both
watching something or someone in motion.
b) The more dimensions of motion involved (up, down, left, right, forward, and
back), the more memorable the experience. Ways to involve motion to reinforce
memory include exhibit demonstrations, staff gestures and walking, video vignettes,
and parts of the exhibit.
B. Relate your benefits to THEIR three "core life experiences":
? family (theirs, yours, or a metaphorical family of services or products)
? where they work or have worked, or
? where they live or have lived.
Here's the steps:
a) First refer to one of their currently pressing interests (not your product).
b) Then refer to how you two share a common interest in the topic.
c) And then to how it relates to you and your product's main benefit.
This method is called the "You-Us-Me" approach. Here's an example:
1. "I gather you are the expert in... "YOU"
2. and that by discussing this with you... "US"
3. I'll get more ideas about if and how our products can best serve people in
your situation.... "ME"
22. To maintain rapport, use specific, emotion-laden language when stating the
positive, and report the negative neutrally -- "just the facts." Your instincts are to
do the reverse, by the way.
23. Begin your comments with a direct response to the prospect's last comment
until they feel heard instead of working up to your response with other background
information they might not want to hear. Characterize your benefits in direct
a. A specific, negative "hot button" or problem they've expressed, which you can
make better or solve, or
b. Some strong positive preference the prospect has just expressed.
24. Offer the tradeshow-related map they'll want to keep and share
Beginning in the Summer of 2005, google began offering the technology tools for
you to "mash-up" or overlay one of their maps with the key points of interest for
people, including your kind of customers. For example, you could overlay a map
with the customers' sites that use your services or key locations that matter for that
meeting's members. What's hot about this new option is that you can mention this
free service in your promotional material, attracting prospective and current
customers to your web site, to which you've linked the customized map. Learn more
25. Make your customers the stars of the tradeshow who can attract others to your
While we're talking tech, you might ask your customers, as they visit yoru booth if
you can interview them regarding what they most like about your product, and offer
those highlights as a downloadable podcast from your web site and as part of your
story on your blog about how you enjoyed seeing customers at the conference and
what they had to say.
And, since people love to see and share photos of themselves and their friends, why
not take digital photos of customers, store them for free in Flikr http://www.google.com/apis/maps and link to each one as you describe each customer
in your blog, then send them each featured person an email with "See your photo at
(name of tradeshow)."
26. Closing Tip: Familiarity Breeds Acceptance
Continuously nurture your best prospects, seeding in their minds your main and
vividly stated differentiating benefit and providing ideas and help at "non-sales"
Make every aspect of your behavior, booth, and promotional material repeat, reflect,
and reinforce that benefit before, during, right after the conference, and later, again
to your hottest prospects.
Kare Anderson is the author of LikeABILITY (see Grand Store at
http://www.SayitBetter.com), Make Yourself Memorable and SmartPartnering. A popular
speaker on SmartPartnering and on how to be more frequently-quoted to become
your kind of customers' top- of-mind choice, she also publishes the SayitBetter
newsletter, with 32,000 subscribers in 28 countries.