Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Show evaluation: walking a show

The best way to evaluate a potential addition to your show schedule is to actually visit the show. Whether you have to buy an airline ticket and plan a trip or park near your local exhibit hall when the show comes to your town, it will payment immense dividends for you to walk teh floor of a show.

To help you judge the show, you will ahve already done your homework on it:

1. Is it in your market?
2. Do your customers or prospects attend and visit the show floor?
3. Do your competitors or partners attend?

You can make up a simple scorecard to judge the show. And always make notes for later evaluation. Once you have these data and done the other research you require (we'll cover the whole judging process in another entry), you're ready to hit the floor. Get a badge and a good pair of walking shows and a stack of cards--we're going to a show!

1. Where does the traffic go when you enter the hall?
2. Where and who are the big players on the floor?
3. What is working to engage visitors on the show floor and who is doing it?

Traffic. Most North Americans enter a hall and go right. There any number of hall traffic patterns, but this seems to be common. However, you may have those who come in, go left and circle the hall, aisle by aisle, like a grocery store shopper. Pay attention to who is going where. Do the corner booths get attention? How well are the islands attracting traffic? What's going on in the back of the hall? Where are visitors "pooling" or congregating?

Big players and prominent booths. When you first walk in the front door, who is there? How big is their booth? Do they use a hanging sign? Which way do their demos face? How is there staff deployed? Are there some big players at the back or sides of the hall?

Engagement. What are exhibitors doing to engage visitors? Is it staff deployment, booth demos on the aisle or a specific giveaway? Are there any live presentations? Which exhibitors used direct mail to get you to their booth (you'll know this if you're preregistered for the show)?

Lesson learned: keep your eyes and ears open as you walk; seeing is believing.


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