Face to Face Marketing: An Industry Behind the Times?

Posted 05/06/2018
Face to Face Marketing: An Industry Behind the Times?

The Presidents Club. ICE Totally Gaming. Mipim. These events have all hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Namely young, pretty women in short skirts and inappropriate behaviour from delegates.

We look at why the industry needs to call time on this approach to exhibiting and how you can move away from old-fashioned tactics towards more effective trade show performance.

Times Are Changing – Move With Them

Unless you’ve been completely out of the loop, you can’t have failed to miss the #metoo and Time’s Up movements that have highlighted the sexual harassment of women in every walk of life.

Far from simply being a social media hashtag, #metoo has led to news stories lifting the lid on sexual exploitation, like that at:

  • The President’s Club charity auction where women were told to dress in revealing outfits and were then groped by male attendees.
  • Or at Mipim, the property industry’s annual bash in Cannes that repeatedly has to warn delegates to ‘respect all individuals’ and has been forced to deny that it hires prostitutes for the event.
  • Or at ICE Totally Gaming, the gambling industry’s conference that featured pole dancers, a Playboy themed show and hostesses who reported being harassed.

The outrage expressed at these news stories and the success of the #metoo campaign has resulted in calls for employers to end sexual harassment in the workplace. And with parliament holding an inquiry into the issue, there will be more focus in this area in the future too.

This cultural shift means the days of using promotions models are behind us.

Generate Better ROI With the Right Trade Show Staff

Back in 2011, way before #metoo, our MD wrote a blog about changing attitudes to event staffing.

He highlighted the approaches taken by two businesses exhibiting at different trade shows. Both events had lower attendances than the previous year, yet business A managed to increase qualified leads while business B experienced a drop in numbers.

The difference between the two firms’ approaches? Business B hired three promotion models dressed in outrageous outfits to smile, hand out leaflets and draw attention to the booth.

Business A also hired a woman but she was dressed in a business suit and was asked to:

  • Proactively approach visitors with a smile
  • Ask open questions to qualify leads
  • Create desire to learn more about the company with a compelling interest statement and by highlighting the benefits of using the company’s products
  • Hand the prospect over to a member of event staff from the company to demonstrate or present the products further
  • Record the visitor’s details and arrange a follow-up call or meeting

This tactic provides a complete contrast to business A. Their sex sells strategy may have made them the talk of the trade show but, as the drop in leads suggests, failed to attract the right audience for the right reasons.

face to face marketing

Modern Marketing for Modern Times

It’s clear that your trade show staff are critical to securing high quality trade show performance and a good return on your investment. But how do you go about getting the right people in place?

Here’s what we’ve learned from staffing over 3,000 exhibitions:

  • Plan well in advance to ensure you have enough time to source the very best people
  • Clarify your objectives to hire the right people. The four key tasks that exhibition staff can carry out are:
    • Hospitality
    • Proactive attendee engagement
    • Product demonstration and presenting
    • Data capture
  • Determine the kind of person you’re looking for and communicate it to your agency to help them find the best fit for your business.
  • Take time to check event staff credentials and interview prospective candidates to get the right people for your brand, team and objectives. Consider items like:
    • The candidate’s experience and qualifications
    • Whether they speak the right language if exhibiting at an overseas event
    • Whether they’ve worked in your sector before
    • Their personality
    • Length of service at that agency
    • Feedback from previous exhibitions
  • As with any employee, provide the right training to ensure your new team member can hit the ground running.
    • Provide a clear briefing document with objectives and tasks
    • Provide your exhibition staff with their schedule at least seven days before the event and include:
      • Onsite names
      • Dress code
      • Objectives
      • Job role
      • Exhibitor USPs
      • Promotions
      • Your expectations
    • Send any scripts at least one month in advance
    • Deliver a briefing session one day before the event or a minimum of two hours before the event starts
    • Presenters will need a rehearsal the day before the event, ideally on site
  • Manage your trade show staff effectively on site.
    • This means being motivating, supportive and creating a positive and professional working atmosphere.
    • Try to ensure one person is responsible for directing event staff so they don’t become confused with multiple demands from different people that can sometimes conflict.

You already know that meeting people in person is a great way to quickly get your business further down the sales funnel. Which is why you invest significant sums of money in attending trade shows.

Using sex to sell is more likely to damage your sales than give them a boost. And, as the headlines show, your brand is at risk if you choose to market in this way.

Instead, boost your trade show performance by learning how to hire the very best booth staff to achieve exhibiting success.


Posted 05/06/2018