Chris Reich of TeachUThe goal of participating in a trade-show is to meet and connect with potential buyers. I am referring to the larger class of trade-show, not a “demo and sell” state fair event.

Connecting with trade-show attendees involves an intelligent strategy. There are a lot of pieces to making that connection beyond collecting business cards, scanning badges (absurd) and delivering rapid-fire sales pitches. Failure to execute that strategy is why so many companies fail to make a solid return on their trade-show cost.

Though I cannot provide an entire trade-show strategy without specific details, I can give you a valuable tip that I have taught successful clients.

The smart phone.

When I work with clients on trade-show performance, I teach the use of the smart phone.

It goes like this. Someone enters your booth space and the conversation begins. You are there to gather information. Too often the balance is tilted toward giving information. Visitors to your booth, as special as it is, will not remember your features and benefits 15 minutes after leaving your booth-sphere. Gather information.

Once I learn that a prospect has an application for a particular product or if they express interest in a particular feature, I use my phone to make the connection. I suggest that we take a couple of pictures of the product, pictures I can email to them with a cut sheet. They’ll have all the information they need within 5 minutes and they won’t have to carry anything.

It’s a good idea to have the pdf files and product images already on your phone when the show opens. Still, I like to take pictures with the prospect so they feel they are directing the shot—and to make a connection. I like to get a picture of the prospect as well as that helps me remember the person. I tell them something like, “you can forward this to the office as proof you attended!”  Approached correctly you will have no problem getting a good picture.

After taking a few pictures, ask for an email address and presto, you have a connection. Make sure you setup a signature line on your phone that gives your contact information rather than just “Sent from my IPhone”.

Don’t shortcut this process.

Remember, the goal is to make connections. You can set up a couple “canned” emails for less promising prospects or to use if you get very busy. But remember the goal is to make a connection with the prospect. While he wanders aimlessly around the the other 5,000 booths, you have deposited pictures and product information in his in-box rather than his “goody bag”. Most product literature is tossed away back at the hotel or never looked at back at the office. Your information is there, on his phone or laptop. And that picture of him probably gets forwarded home. You are connected.

You have gathered an email address, images of your prospect’s interest and likely a picture of the prospect. The body of the email should be enough to remind you of the conversation. BAM! Done!

This is a very slick and effective technique. Use it and you will enhance your trade-show return on investment.

Chris Reich,
FW: 93 (Moving ahead)