As a small media company that LOVES to attend Outdoor Retailer (OR), there are some things that exhibitors do we simply cannot understand during this week of celebration at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City…and most of them are NOT positive. Please accept our humble insights on these things that exhibitors, big and small, should NEVER do at OR.
This is offered, not just from a attendees perspective, but to help exhibitors also get the most out of their experience during the great #PartyAtThePalace.
1. Just sit/stand behind your booth blankly scanning the crowd
Yes…OR is a jam-packed event that can be exhilarating, as well as exhausting. And I am sure each and every brand is investing good money to occupy the valuable real estate of the Salt Palace Convention Center during this “gotta be there” gathering. So why do I, more often than not, find people just sitting back behind their front desks not even engaging passers-by…especially near the end of the show? This is especially true of medium to small-sized brands that are really counting on a significant ROI during their time in the hall.
Two simple suggestions that will help you gain a bigger audience…
- FIRST, get the front table/stand out of the way, so that people can get into your space making it easier to approach them.
- SECOND, you should greet every person with whom you make eye-contact! Hand them something! Ask them where they are from! Something/anything to engage. You never know who will be your next account.
2. Keep a straight face and resist getting those cheekbones to rise!
So when I finally do engage some of those exhibitors, it’s amazing to me how many neither smile or even act like they want to talk to me…don’t they know who I am 🙂 Sure…there are long days at OR. But without an inviting smile or even a feigning interest in whoever comes to your both, you can expect even longer days when you go home waiting for those collected business cards to call you back.
3. Send Boring Titled Emails
We all have to register for OR, both Summer and Winter Market. And most exhibitors use their PR firms to begin soliciting meetings with established vendors and (sort of) with new ones. Emails with headers like “Stop by and see [insert brand here] at OR” and “So-and-so Booking Appts for So-and-so at OR” and “Samples of SOMETHING at Booth ????”
Huh? Wow! Thanks for the heads up, but really? Unless we have been doing business in the past, why would I want to work past that limp-biscuit handshake of an email header and spend time with you guys? Spice it up gang! Titles like, “Featuring Live Iguana Tricks at Booth xxxx!” “Free Pancake Breakfast Just for Stopping By!” (This really happens!) “My Mother-in-Law will actually compliment me at 1:30PM in Booth xxxx!” Sure…embellish it in the headline, clarify in the body of the email, but, for sure, totally create an impression that visitors will definitely carry onto the expo floor and make a beeline directly to your booth!
4. Not provide at least a business card contact
How many times have I been told that, “Oh…you’ll have to speak with so-and-so about that.” And they will NOT even have a business card for that person or they have run out of them. So now, the person at the reception desk (aka “booth bouncer”) will scratch out the name on another card and scribble the appropriate person’s name and number on the back side. This is usually difficult to read and, more importantly, makes you feel like you’ve just been led down a path in the desert all by your lonesome.
Full disclosure, many of the top brands do have a binder with each person’s card in them, but for smaller to medium-sized businesses DO NOT run out of business cards! If you do, then PLEASE take my business card, text me in an hour to thank me for stopping by, and let me know you will make sure my card gets to the right person! Now I’m feeling like you really care.
5. Tell visitors to your booth how booked solid you are
Yes! I am a small business owner, and you’re a global brand with a Five Tractor Trailer exhibition booth. I know how impossible it is to cold call at OR. I understand that you are doing a ton of customer relations with already established clients. YOU DON’T have to tell me that. I already know! So please don’t pee on my small parade to your booth by telling me how “super busy” or “booked solid” so-and-so is! If I want to be treated like one of the “regular people,” I’ll stand in line for an hour at a hot dance club in NYC.
Instead, please apologize for not having a time slot available…yet! Put me me on some waiting list, find another person for me to speak with, or just take my card and follow #4 described above to make me feel like there’s a shot. Some of your newest, most innovative ideas and products might just be coming from that same home office like mine…and you DO NOT want to miss it!