Your company may spend thousands of dollars or up to hundreds of thousands sponsoring and manning a trade show or conference booth. Most Platinum, Gold and Silver tier event sponsors know the ROI that is possible (and needed), which is why they go all-in with the right booth, people and pre and post event activities.

Most event booths sponsorships support 2–6 people which can still add up to a sizable investment for your company.

In our experience, many companies fail at basic booth management and execution best practices. The impact of which leads to poor booth investment ROI and disgruntled employees who manned the booth.

There are many elements to successful event marketing, but there are eight valuable best practices that can result in more successful event booth ROI:

  1. Have those covering the booth arrive early the day before the event instead of the last flight in. Booth duty is hard and demanding, so they need to be rested and energized.
  2. Stow the laptops and mobile devices that are not directly used to demo or showcase your company. Checking email, hammering out proposals and other busy work while manning a booth sends a message of disinterest to potential prospects that walk by. If you are “off-duty,” leave the booth and catch-up on your work in the hotel room, restaurant or lobby.
  3. If you are splitting duty between the both and event content agenda, don’t work during breaks and lunch. These are the best times to engage with customers and prospects. Work during a content session when no will want to talk to you. Choosing to skip event breakfasts, breaks, lunch and happy hours are missed opportunities to connect with attendees.
  4. Don’t greet attendees that walk by your booth with “Hi, how are you?” Most everyone responds “well, thanks” and they keep on walking. To engage people you should maybe start with “Good morning, can you spare 3 (or 2 or 5) minutes for me to share with you how our company helps companies like yours improve revenue and profit?” After they say “yes” and you tell them how you can help them, then ask them about their company.
  5. Don’t sit. If you can’t stand any longer have someone relieve you so you can rest. If you are sitting, you are probably focused on something else anyway.
  6. Limit long conversations at the booth during peak event hours with old colleagues and customer contacts that want to “catch-up.” They consume valuable time that you are paying to engage new prospects and clients with growth needs.
  7. Assume that your booth does not communicate well what your company does. In my experience, the majority of booths don’t communicate what business they are in and why I should stop. Make sure people that are manning the booth have honed the elevator speech on what your company does. Hint — The speech does not start with “we offer (provide, sell, manufacture, distribute, etc.).
  8. Don’t leave booth duties to product and marketing team. Product development and marketing teams are ideal resources to support your booth investment. However, those resources do not replace professional salespeople. Staff the booth with the right mix of people for optimal coverage and impact.

These are the basics. We’ll cover pre and post event best practices in future posts.

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