In a recent post, we gave 5 tips for pitching your product at ABC. Here, based on years of experience attending ABC and many other shows, are 7 more tips to keep in mind as you head off to Las Vegas for this year’s show (or any other trade show for that matter).
Use this list to remind yourself how important the little things are when it comes to making an impression on literally thousands of people during a 4-day period.
1. Know before you go
I know it’s hard to research 100 people before you get to ABC, but it’s certainly easier today than it used to be. At a minimum, take time to Link In with everyone on your schedule. This will give you at least a few seconds to look at their profile and maybe remember a few things you might have in common (jobs, school, interests). This will also save you time after the event. If you can, create a system for all the cards you’re going to collect. This year, we’re imitating other people we’ve seen by using a form to make it easier to collect the key information you often forget to ask for, or worse, lose scribbled on the back of a Starbucks receipt. If you go this route, bring a small stapler to attach business cards to each page.
2. Prep your speech
While all the other PR flaks are telling you to drill your 30 second elevator pitch, I say throw out the elevator pitch in favor of tailored pitches you to different segments of your audience. No one, not even admirers of the elevator pitch concept, like to hear a pitch rattled off like a bad poetry recital. The key thing is to make the pitch valuable for each different person who visits your booth.
3. Practice benefits-based selling
The whole idea of a “pitch” is to sell something. We’re all in this game of selling ideas, concepts, or hard goods. To be successful at pitching, you need to sell on the benefit to your audience. For that reason, I recommend making a list of all the types of folks who might visit your booth. Make a list that includes the following:
Next to each, define why that type of person would want to know about, work with, or buy from you. Believe me, you’ll be surprised when you realize how off the mark your former “one size fits all” pitch was.
4. Eschew the gum…
and anything else that makes you look unprofessional. While you don’t want to be so buttoned up that you look unapproachable, business people want to work with others who look in control and responsible. You want to look relaxed but importantly, like you’ll always deliver on time
5. Stay in the box
Don’t leave your booth empty. Don’t start packing up early on Wednesday. If you’ve invested time to go to Las Vegas, make the effort to make the time count. This gets hard at 5PM when everyone is breaking out the wine, but keep your game face on. Your best customer might arrive at 5:30.
6. Smile and show interest
I meet a lot of people who are still a lot like teenagers. They telegraph their unhappiness and when given a moment, only want to talk about their product or themselves. Remember: you’ll always get a lot more than you give if you allow conversations time to breathe and listen to the other person.
7. Drink if you want, in the evenings, but in moderation
Yes, Las Vegas is filled with lots of tempations, not least of which is the party atmosphere throughout the Strip. But unless you’re really on vacation, Vegas during ABC week is not the time to tie one on like you’re on Spring Break. I’ve been known to enjoy a good time myself, but there’s no bigger turn-off at an 9AM meeting than somone who still reeks of the party from the night before. Unfortunately, I see this at least once at every ABC.
All of these tips are super-easy if you just keep them in mind. It is hard to avoid the tempation to hide behind your table or take a long dive into your phone. It is just four days and for most of us, the only real opportunity of hte year to meet the people we only know from industry press or their twitter feed. Make the most of it, have fun, and make sure to come home with lots of new friends in your address book.
I’ll be at ABC 2014 and have a full list of meeting on Sunday through Tuesday. If you’re interested in discussing advertising planning for 2015, let us know and Holly Kaye, our ad director, or I will make sure to stop by