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April 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 4
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Event Marketing Guru’s Corner: Connect ... Or Be Disconnected!

Steps to Ensure Your ROI Isn’t Hurt By Failure to Engage


“It is the exhibitor’s job to reach out and initiate new conversations with all potential prospects during the few seconds they’re afforded ...”
One of the most critical mistakes booth staffers make at trade shows is failing to engage attendees who pass by (and make any eye contact whatsoever), whether they seem interested or not. Research indicates they are highly unlikely to ever return to your exhibit area during the show.

Furthermore, a major common complaint expressed by attendees is (naturally, in varying semantics), “I came to the show to find optimal solutions and too few ‘new potential partners’ actually engaged me.”

That’s the very reason today’s attendees are visiting the show. They’re not there to simply collect information.

Today’s attendees are more educated, informed, sophisticated and time-impoverished than ever before. It is the exhibitor’s job to reach out and initiate new conversations with all potential prospects during the few seconds they’re afforded this precious opportunity.

How do you connect?
1.    Engage everyone. Smile, make friendly eye contact, and approach all booth visitors before they exit. Each prospective attendee who’s not engaged represents a significant lost opportunity.

2.    Ask a specific question that invites passers-by to talk about their business initiatives. A simple “How are you doing?” won’t do.

If you design new craft kits for a very specific age and gender, you might say, “Hi, Kate. I noticed that you’re an attendee and, therefore, must be seeking new solutions for your store. What kind of art activities do you carry for 8- to 12-year-old girls?”

If she doesn’t connect right away, find out more by saying, “It would help me to know, Kate …”

3.    Be sincere. Focus on making genuine human connections with all prospects. Put your heart, personality, sense of humor and passion into every connection.

4.    Listen. You should listen 80 percent of the time and talk only 20 percent of the time. Don’t ever talk for more than two minutes consecutively, and never begin selling before you truly connect.
In the new exhibition marketplace, the buyer has all of the power, and he or she knows it!

Failure to do the aforementioned only results in increased disconnections ... and thus, dividers of your ROI.



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Charles W. AllenWriter's Bio: Charles W. Allen is an independent consultant for professional event marketing solutions and specializes in sales training, motivational speaking and maximizing sponsorship sales. He also serves as executive director of the International Economic Alliance, which originated at Harvard University. Read more articles by this author

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