In a world where retail eCommerce sales surpassed $2.3 billion this year, touting your products at fairs, trade shows, and festivals might seem like an outdated tactic to grow your business.
However, showcasing your product or service in real life still has high sales potential today. 82% of trade show attendees are directly involved in their teams’ purchasing decisions, so setting up shop at fairs, trade shows, and festivals is one of the best ways to connect with your target accounts’ key decision makers. Trade shows can also help you connect with other players in your industry, market your brand to a large audience, and gather feedback about your products.
To help you get the most out of your next trade show, we’ve compiled five effective strategies for selling your products at your booth. And hopefully, they can help you instantly attract your visitors’ attention and convince them to buy on the spot.
5 Strategies for Selling Your Products at Fairs, Trade Shows, & Festivals
1. Attract attendees with eye-catching merchandise or engaging entertainment.
In a venue full of generic trade booths screaming for everyone’s attention, you really only have a few seconds to catch someone's eye. Fortunately, offering interesting swag, giveaways, food, videos, and music can entice them to check out your booth.
For instance, at Agritechnica 2017, a leading trade fair for agricultural technology, SIP set up a booth where people could take a look at their agricultural machinery. But to initially attract them to their booth, they knew asking every single passerby to check out their products would repel them faster than a door-to-door salesman could. So they decided to set up a concert in front of their booth, where visitors would enjoy live music from a few row of seats.
SIP’s clever marketing tactic created a fun environment for attendees who wanted to take a break from the trade fair, and the large crowd attracted even more people to their booth. The live music also warmed up most attendees to SIP’s sales representatives when they talked to them and even prompted some visitors to approach the representatives themselves.
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2. Target the companies in attendance.
Another way you can instantly grab people’s attention at trade shows is designing your booth to attract specific target accounts in attendance. For example, at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference one year, HubSpot used the Marketing Grader Tool to grade the marketing programs of companies we know would be in attendance.
We then displayed a leaderboard of the top-ranked companies on one of our television sets, which captivated the attendees who saw their company on the leaderboard and, in turn, lead to a lot of conversations with our representatives about how they could improve their marketing programs.
3. Sell an experience, not your product.
Most people cherish experiences over material possessions. Why? Because we’re the sum of our experiences, so they’re ingrained in our identity and will always be a part of our story, allowing us to bond with other people who’ve shared similar experiences.
If your booth can provide attendees with a delightful, memorable experience, you’ll make much more of an emotional impact than selling them a product ever would. These experiences also make for a compelling story that visitors will be more than happy to share with other attendees.
Charity Water, an organization that creates clean water sources for remote villages in developing nations, gave attendees at a trade show an experience they will always remember. The company had a booth where guests could carry two 40 pound jugs of water across a 50 yard platform, which African villagers do for miles every single day.
Picture Credit: Huffington Post
This experience helped attendees realize how challenging it is for villagers in developing nations to access something that most people can obtain with the twist of a faucet, boosting the odds that attendees would donate more money to the cause.
4. Make sure your credit card machine works.
As someone who has had to manually enter customers' credit card information into a point-of-sale system, I know how horrifying it is to see a long line of impatient customers eventually trickle out of your store.
Nowadays, 77% of consumers prefer using credit or debit cards as their main form of payment. So only accepting cash and check or manually entering people’s credit card details could cause you to lose money and loyal customers in the long-run, even though you have to pay credit card companies processing fees to accept their cards.
Before you set up shop at your fair, festival, or trade show, strongly consider purchasing a credit card machine and make sure it works properly.
5. Treat everyone who visits your booth like a paying customer.
The first impression your brand makes on potential customers is arguably the most important interaction in the buyer’s journey. Studies show that good first impressions lead to connection, while bad ones lead to bias and prejudice. And as the old saying goes, you never get a second chance at first impressions.
Acting aloof toward curious attendees who want to learn about your product but might not seem like the best fit for your solution can spark a ripple effect that could hurt your business down the road. You never know when an unqualified prospect could get a new job and turn into a coveted lead. Losing a deal over a bad first impression is infuriating, so treat every visitor like a paying customer -- answer all their questions and give them a thorough product demo if they ask for one.