By Jefferson Davis, Trade Show Productivity Expert, Competitive Edge

Trade Show Attendee*** The following is part four of a six-part series on exhibitions.

In my first three AEM Industry Advisor articles, I talked about two important things your exhibit program should deliver, and the importance of executing the principles and practices of defining outcomes and selective attraction.

The third critical factor is the centerpiece of your exhibiting program: effectively managing your attendees’ experience. All of the other four success factors support and depend on how well you execute this critical area.

To effectively manage attendee experience, it’s important to first understand why they visit trade shows. The three primary reasons why people attend trade shows are:

  1.        To learn
  2.        To source
  3.        To network

It’s also important to remember different people prioritize their reasons for attending differently.

As you think about what you want your visitors to experience, it’s important to try to offer interactive experiences that address all three needs. What are you currently doing to address visitors' learning needs? How about their sourcing needs?  And what about their networking needs?

Learning needs should be met by first thinking very carefully about your products and services, as well as identifying what attendees need to know to be able use and benefit from your solutions. Then they should be met by delivering learning-based content through brief and interactive presentations and demonstrations.

There are so many learning options: hands-on demos and labs, scale models with static or digital signage, or interactive touchscreens, theater presentations, videos, as well as one-to-one personalized presentations.

Sourcing needs can be met by helping visitors learn the key things to consider when evaluating or buying your type of solution. Direct competitive comparisons can be an effective way to showcase your unique selling propositions. The primary question is “Why should we buy from you, versus buying from someone else or doing nothing?” Be sure to not just differentiate your products and services, but also your company, your people and your processes.

Networking needs are met by creating opportunities to connect your clients and prospects in relaxed or focused settings. It can be in the booth with hospitality or relax-and-recharge areas, peer-to-peer discussion areas, problem solving, brainstorming and white boarding areas, or maybe even social media activities. Outside the booth, it can happen through renting adjunct meeting space in the exhibit hall and using hospitality suites, dinners or events.

So now that you know the three primary reasons people attend tradeshows, and the importance of offering experiences to meet all three needs, get your event management team together and develop a plan of action to address all three.

This will make your exhibit stand out from the crowd and deliver serious value to both your market and your company.