5 Things Exhibitors Need at a Conference

Last year, I wrote about things that you need as an attendee to be prepared for a conference. This year, after attending BOLO 2012 in Scottsdale, I decided to put together a little list of what you need to have if you are a vendor, exhibitor, etc. at a conference.

The Linkshare Booth at BlogWorld New York

Photo Credit: Jared Polin on Flickr

1. Enthusiasm for the company you are representing.

If you don’t do your research properly, you might end up exhibiting at a conference that turns out not to have your ideal customer base in attendance. It happens. But the last thing you want to do is look unenthusiastic about your company just because you don’t think anyone is biting. Even if just one possible prospect is in attendance, they might be appalled by your representation of the company enough that they won’t recommend your products or services when they get back to the office.

Your best bet – pretend everyone you meet at a conference is a potential customer and treat them with a convincing, enthusiastic sales pitch. Even if you think you know no one cares, you can consider it practice for the next conference you attend.

2. Lots of business cards.

Sadly, I have seen several exhibitors in the past who came up empty handed when going to exchange business cards. You always, always want to have more business cards than you need – to the point that it feels ridiculous that you brought so many and used so few. It’s better to have more than you need than less.

3. Detailed brochures.

As an exhibitor, you don’t want to just have business cards (unless you have a really detailed business card), but you’ll want brochures that highlight your main products and services as well. This way, when attendees and potential customers are sifting through their conference materials, they’ll see more than just a business card from an exhibitor that they might not remember. They’ll instead have the information about a product or service that they may want to try out.

There are plenty of great brochure printing services out there, so there is really no excuse not to have great brochures. Be sure that yours not only includes details about your products or services but also includes a specific call to action such as going to your website to sign up and get a free trial or learn more.

4. The right technology to present your product or service live.

Ok, there are some things you can’t present on the fly. But if you can offer up a live demo, be sure you have the technology (and wi-fi hookup) to present your product to potential customers. A great example of how this can turn your conference attendance into a boatload of customers is how I discovered Buffer at BlogWorld in 2011. Leo Widrich, the founder of Buffer App, did an excellent job of giving me a demo of the app. Since then, I’ve been a loyal customer and promoter of his service. The best part is that he wasn’t even an exhibitor – just another attendee. If more exhibitors did demos of their products (with enthusiasm, of course), they’d secure more customers at conferences.

5. Fun swag.

Many attendees at conferences are swag junkies – they are going to seek out exhibitors with the best shirts, gadgets, gizmos, and other branded items on their tables. While you might feel you are getting hit up more for your swag than your actual business cards and brochures, fear not. The people walking away with your swag are essentially marketing your brand for you throughout the conference and beyond when they are bringing your swag back to their offices. The key is to include a little blurb on what your company is about with each piece of swag you have so that anyone checking it out can at least check out your website.

As a conference attendee, what are some other things you wish exhibitors and vendors had at conferences that would make you more interested in their business? Please share in the comments!

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  1. says

    Great list, Kristi – definitely all of these are must-haves for conferences!

    Swag is so important. Because people might dump your business cards and pamphlets (let’s hope not, but you never know), but they will hang on to tote bags or personalized pens. Swag junkies are inevitable. A great way to weed out actual prospects for the junkies is to have an inexpensive, attention-grabbing item for all, but save nicer items for those who listen to your pitch or demonstration.
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  2. says

    When all is said and done, a pair of comfortable shoes makes all the difference especially if you’re going to be standing for several days.

  3. says

    Hey Kristi,

    First point is really essential and success of exhibition mostly depends upon the behavior of exhibitors. They should never think they’re promoting a product of any company, instead they should have feeling that they’re promoting their own product which brings more passion and value in customer care.
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  4. says

    Near me, the fourth point is very important. These days, people easily get attracted to different new technologies, and if a company wisely use latest gadgets to represent their self then I can say they can also turn every person into providing its information or can easily lead general viewers into customers.
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  5. says

    As an exhibitor with my day job, all your tips are completely right. Where I differ is the swag giveaways or “Tchokies” as we call them. Yes, give them away, but they too often become trash accessible or items for their kids. If you do use these come up with items you haven’t seen at any conference you participated in. One year I saw these glowing necklaces at a small show and the line was around the corner for this guy. We replicated it at our biggest show and it was a hit. We never had so many people standing at our booth at once before, but it was overwhelming and fun. Then afterwards at the show concert they were all wearing the same necklaces with our name on it. It was priceless.

    Another strategy to add is sponsorship. When exhibitors sign up to exhibit at conferences, they are presented with sponsorship packages to give companies more visibility. Although the packages aren’t cheap, the ones that are the most popular is Lanyards or Bag insert sponsorship. Your company name is seen everywhere on someones neck or you can add literature in the bag that is given to all attendees when they register to get their badge.

    Here’s something else we do every year that gets us loads of visitors: We have a treasure chest that we load up with tons of goodies and prizes. The hitch is to have the right “key” to open the box. We have special sheets made up professionally and I glue thousands (I have help) to each sheet. We gets tons of visitors and loads of conversations just on this gimmick alone.

    Your tips were just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done for visibility, but if a company has budget, the options are endless. Last year we spent over $150K for our biggest show which increased our ROI and nearly paid for the show itself.
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  6. says

    Love the tips. Some of them seem like they would be obvious, liking having plenty of business cards. It happens fairly often, though, just because it is such a small detail. I love the idea of making sure you can offer an impressive demo of your product or service. Brochures and pictures are necessary and important, but still lack that “showing rather than telling” factor. Another fantastic article!
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  7. says

    Great Kristi,
    These are the important points which we keep in our mind when going for Conference and represent any Business. I like your one of the points “Enthusiasm for the company you are representing” this is important because if you are going to represent any business you need to keep all information about company so you can face people with full of Enthusiasm and impress them.
    Thanks Kristi for good post..
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