2011 ASI Chicago Show: An Open Letter to the Exhibitors
Dear ASI Exhibitors,
What a wonderful experience! It was great meeting so many of you, checking out exciting new products, and even giving out a few Bubbas along the way.
I got a few geeky thrills, too, most notable in the form of an especially nerdy imprint.
At a crowded, industry trade show, competing for attention is challenging. You used various strategies to get my attention, keep my interest, and send me off with a solid first impression.
Most of you were wonderful and memorable. Others… could use some pointers.
First, the good stuff:
To the lady who commented on the product I was looking at and asked me what you could tell me about it, thank you!
- Giving me information on the item I’m looking at shows that you’re not just launching into a prepared sales pitch: you’re gauging my personal interest.
- The open-ended question was a bit of a mind hack (asking WHAT you could tell me rather than IF I needed to know anything, you sneaky thing), but you were friendly and it did prompt me to engage with you.
To the gentleman who chatted with me about Chicago sports for ten minutes while things were slow, I appreciate your effort to connect with me!
- Our conversation about your company revealed we had something in common, which made you and your product line all the more memorable.
- Your enthusiasm and knowledge about my favorite Chicago sports team assured me that you were genuinely interested and knowledgeable, not just agreeing with what I said in hopes of making a sale.
You two and so many other folks were wonderful to meet, and I took note not only of your product line but also your kindness and professionalism.
Some of your other strategies were memorable, too… but for all the wrong reasons.
Now, the tough stuff:
I am a short, young woman. I know I’m generally about six to twelve inches below your eyeline, but please make an effort to make eye contact and talk with me. I just know you didn’t ignore me – the person standing closest to your booth, looking at you and your catalog, saying “excuse me” – to talk to the taller, older gentlemen behind me, because they better fit your idea of what a person worth your time looks like. It must be the height thing, and since wearing six-inch stilettos at a convention is awfully painful, please make sure you’ve acknowledged interested parties of all heights.
I’m not a big fan of the barcodes on the front of our badges. Sure, scanning it will give you a mailing address or email, but you can get that from a business card. The most aggravating part of the barcodes is that many of you apparently had a quota to meet. That is the only way I can explain some of the unprofessional and downright embarrassing behavior.
Over the course of one day, I saw exhibitors:
- Ask if they could scan my badge while I was browsing their product line without first asking if I was interested in additional information
- Step in front of me in the aisles and ask if they could scan my badge, without a greeting or any introduction to their product line
- Attempt to “snipe” me from their booths without asking my permission
The ultimate goal for your presence at a trade show or convention is not to get more contact information. It’s to get more customers. That means more interested prospects. That means not turning off those who might have been interested in your product line if you hadn’t jumped out at them like a snake with a caffeine addiction.
Bottom line: make sure you’re cultivating long-term business relationships even at short-term events.
The vast majority of you at the convention were polite and professional. Unfortunately, the aggressive tactics used by some were very much a turn-off, and yes, I did take note of which businesses they were.
But I don’t want to end on a down note like that, my new friends! I had a great time getting to see products in person I had only read about on our site. Hands on is the way to go!
And I definitely have a newfound respect for those at Quality Logo Products whose job it is to hand-select each of the products we offer. There’s so much to choose from, and so many of you made it easy to get the answers to our questions.
I hope to make it out to another ASI show sometime soon, perhaps during a week where we’re not in triple digit temperatures.
Thanks for everything!
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!
An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.