RFID Journal Editor Mark Roberti's Blog
The Biggest Mistakes Vendors Make at Trade Shows
March 09, 2010
I recently posted a blog entry focused on the biggest mistakes providers of radio frequency identification products and services make in their marketing. I think it's also worth examining some of the errors they make at trade shows. While these aren't strategic mistakes, they are tactical snafus that reduce their ability to get a return on their trade-show investment.
Not having a booth designed to attract the target customer: When you pass booths at a trade show, it's often a mystery as to what exactly each company offers (and this is true not just of RFID trade shows). If your company is a household name, it might not matter. But if it isn't, then it helps to have a booth that reveals your value proposition. This can be done with signage ("See the Best-Performing RFID Tag," for instance) or with props. Last year, Omni-ID had a very successful display—a fish tank with tags under water—that showed off special tags that work in the presence of liquids. And ODIN Technologies brought in a shipping container to show off its SMART Container solution.
Not targeting the sub-segment of attendees who will be interested in their product: At any large event, there will be people from different industries, individuals with different business problems and those seeking different types of solutions. Vendors make the mistake of targeting everyone. When we ask them to list the products they sell, so we could enable attendees to better find the companies that offer the products they want, many vendors listed themselves in every category. This benefits no one, least of all the attendee.
It makes much more sense to go into the event with a clear idea of who the most likely potential customer would be, and then to target that particular group. For instance, if you sell passive RFID tags that out-perform others, focus on those who are coming to the event to find passive tags they can consistently read on their products or assets. You can target this group by sponsoring a demo area that shows off how well your tags perform, speaking about overcoming problems to achieve consistent reads, or offering a free white paper at your booth.
Not giving away anything of value to attract attendees: Everyone brings "tchotchkes," but few companies offer attendees anything of real value. Our research shows that one of the best ways to attract traffic to your booth is by offering a high-quality white paper on a topic that will interest a specific set of attendees. This can also help attract the right people to your booth (see point above).
Not doing enough legwork before the event: Some companies do aggressive outreach to their customers and potential customers before an event, to set up meetings with those in attendance. They also use event community tools, like our RFID Connect, to reach out to potential customers. Needless to say, these companies get more out of an event than those that just show up and set up their booths. Our event community tool enables you to set up a company profile so attendees searching for products can find you. You can also post press releases and blogs, let people know about giveaways at your booth and more. Use these tools, and you will maximize your event investment.
Hunkering down in the booth: Many companies seem to believe that they must stay in it at all times and wait until attendees come to them. A better strategy is to have at least one person attend the sessions, visit the busy areas of the exhibit hall and strike up conversations. It's particularly important to mingle outside of sessions related to your target audience. If you're selling a manufacturing solution, for example, someone should be networking outside the Manufacturing Track all day long. And booth staffers should never talk to each other. Attendees will walk right by.
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Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. His blog focuses on all aspects of radio frequency identification and related technologies.
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