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How Exhibitors Can Move More Attendees Closer to Buying

by Kare Anderson
Author & Speaker


What's the Biggest Single Change That Some Exhibitors Could Make to Move More Prospects Closer to a Sale?

Exhibitors could make their "main differentiating benefit" the most prominant message in all that they display or discuss.

Are exhibitors giving their prospects what they most need to know to close a sale?

How can they help attendees make an informed choice -- and act sooner?

How many steps do even "warm" buyers have take to complete the sale, from signing to delivery through possible training on the use of the product?

Can exhibitors not only take steps to make the buyer happy with their decision but also be a hero among her or his collagues so the customer will tell others and buy again?

After walking through over 200 trade shows prior to speaking to exhibitors, I’m surprised to see that less than 5 percent of the exhibitors make their top message the one that a prospective buyers needs to know most: the main differentiating benefit between their product or service and that of the top two or three alternative vendors, as the prospect most probably views their options.

Instead, exhibits and promotional materials usually give more prominance to the product and or the company name.

Attendees rarely see or hear about an exhibitor's main benefit first. Benefits rarely "jump out" at attendees from the booth or collateral messages or the staff's explanation. Thus, exhibitors inadvertently hide their biggest benefit.

In most cases, features (how a product is constructed or its "capacity” or how it is operated) are still promoted more heavily than the benefits (what it does for the customer).

That is not customer-centered, thoughtful marketing. The prospect has to do more work to make a fair comparision.

Exhibitors can offer succinct, specific and easy-to-follow comparision sheets that do not insult the competition. One comparision sheet may "headline" the major benefits. Other back-up sheets can provide more detailed comparisions. Put a "human face" on the facts by providng customers' situational examples to illustrate the benefits.

Plus, staff often attempt to build traffic to their booth with contests, drawings or giveaways gadgets that don't relate to their main, differentiating benefit or even their product so they don't get closer to their hottest prospects.

Further, staff's ice - breaker comments may be general and not relevent to the reason to buy ("Having a good time?", "Want a free . . .?")

Unfortunately, exhibitor staff often do not get the opportunity to be involved in the design of their exhibit or promotional materials. They must accept the setting in which they sell and engage prospects as they pass with involving comments and state the main benefits verbally to attendees in a brief, involving way that pulls attendees in rather than turning them off.

When companies don't make their main benefit easy to see and hear quickly, attendees must be deeply motivated to look and ask for the essential information they want.

Credible benefit statements increase the chances for a sale.

A credible brand name then reinforces the reason to buy, not the other way around. Good benefit statements are vivid and specific examples, facts, comparisions.

    Passersby are in one of three buying modes:
  1. seeking information to buy a certain kind of product for the first time and trying to select the best product

  2. consider changing vendors if they find a better product

  3. "troll":
    a) not buying now but seeing what is new for future reference
    b) or don't have the budget or need and will never buy
    Serious buyers most want to see and hear information regarding:
  • the main reason to buy at all and, if they do buy,
  • the main reason they should buy from you over your closest competitors, as they see them.

23 Ways to Attract Serious Buyers to Your Exhibit and to a Sale


1. Draft and memorize a one to two sentence top "diifferentiating benefit" statement, relative to your two closest competitors without denigrating the competition.

2. Start with the specific benefit, rather than building up to it with general background and the listener will listen sooner and longer. The specific detail ("Product with the fewest parts that need replacement.") proves the general benefit. The general statement ("We are the people who care.") is less credible and memorable.

3. Multiply attendees' number of positive exposures to your benefit in everything you say, display, point at, mail, stand near or offer.

4. Be able to reduce that benefit to its essence in one vivid phrase or sentence.

5. Make your phrase sufficiently interesting and brief so that they feel they're in charge. they'll be more likely to stay and ask you enough questions so you can recognize their main interests, level of knowledge, hot buttons and how they are making their decision.

6. Offer "real life" situational examples. Cite relevent and diverse customers' experiences. Tell them what your customers actually said.

7. Give no more than three supportive benefits.

8. Express each supportive benefit like a headline, a "billboard message" of no more than five to eight words.

9. Use everyday, non-jargon and non- industry - specific language, even if the attendees may know the jargon.

10. The most credible proof of your benefits are the third party endorsements of three diverse customers who have little else in common other than their adoration of your product and their similiarity with your prospect.

11. Display a satisfied client's quotes under each benefit on the booth and in promotional material -- preferably in a different color and type face. Their endorsments are most credible when they relate to a specific situation, change, vivid contrast or improvement, their words will be more memorable.

12. Yes! Remove all graphics and words in the booth and materials that do not relate to either the main benefit and (not more than three) supportive benefits so attendees will be able to take the information within 12 - 15 seconds, their average pause-to-scan time in such conditions.

13. Display your main point and supportive points on the booth above the tops of the heads of the booth staff and attendees so views are not blocked.

14. Booth visuals and words should guide attendees' eyes down a "path", from one message to the next.

15. Avoid opening references to weather, "Having fun?, freebies, drawings or other non-benefit-related topics.

16. Verbally and visually make a "Conference Offer": more information, time-limited or bundled product order price, consultation or other vivid benefit to move them closer to a sale.

17. Attendees' attention span is shortened if you wear patterned or very detailed clothing or accessories (pin, necklace, tie, earrings) or other busy "body signage", especially on the upper half of your body.

18. For those who know your product (and you know that they are familiar with it):

  • Hand the person a gift (preferably one that does not prominently display your company or product name) while asking them: "May I give you this small gift for taking the time to answer two questions for me?"
  • Then ask, "What do you like best about our product or (service)?" Whatever is said aloud is then believed more deeply by the speaker.
  • Be a complete and supportive listener as they explain. Give uninterrupted eye contact, nod offer other responsive gestures that are natural for you.
  • When they're finished, ask, "Tell me more about that." As they elaborate, they move the topic closer to the top of their mind and they also become more:
    • articulate and vivid
    • deeply believing the reasons they've stated for liking your product.
The result? You've moved them closer to being fervent and articulate fans. They are more likely to talk themselves closer to a sale and voluntarily tell others why they like your product.

19. When you first meet that prospect, find the quality in them that you can most like and admire and keep it upper most in your mind as you talk with them. You are more likely to bring out that aspect of their personality when they are around you and less likely to react to their behaviors that irritate or otherwise both you.

20. When you stand opposite someone, you are more likely to literally oppose them. Instead, "siddle" whenever possible.

Men instinctively "siddle", when together, shaking hands and then standing more or less side by side. Women instinctively continue to face each other or a man. When standing side-by-side, people feel more comfortable with each other, themselves and their surrounding. They listen sooner and longer and are more inclined to agree with each other.

21. Learn to get people to remember what you say, even if they are not trying to.

Here are three successful ways to "lodge" your message in their mind:

  1. People remember more and feel more intensely -- for good and for bad -- when they are in motion. Say your main points while turning, shaking hands, when they are reaching for something, demonstrating a product, pointing to something, when a part of the booth is in motion, etc. Here's two guides to what kind of motion is most memorable:
    • Things are most memorable when you're both in motion, next most memorable when the other person is in motion even if you aren't, third most memorable when you are in motion and fourth most memorable when you are both watching something or someone in motion.
    • The more dimensions of motion involved (up, down, left, right, forward and back) the more memorable the experience will be. Involve motion to reinforce memory in exhibit demonstrations, staff gestures and walking, video vignettes, parts of the exhibit, etc.

  2. Relate your benefits to their three "core life experiences": family (theirs, yours or a metaphorical family of services or products) ,where they work or have worked or where they live or have lived.

  3. a.) First refer to one of their currently pressing interests (not your product), then
    b.) to how you two share a common interest in the topic and
    c.) how it relates to you and your product's main benefit.

    This method is called "Triangling" to agreement: You-Us-Me approach:
    Example:
    "I gather that you are the expert in"
    1. YOU

    "and that by discussing this with you"
    2. US

    "I'll get more ideas about if and how our products can best serve people in your situation"
    3. ME


22. To maintain rapport, use specific, emotion-laden language when stating the positive and neutrally report the negative, "just the facts."

23. Begin your comments with the direct response to their last comment rather than working up to your response with other background information that they may not want to hear until they feel heard.

Characterize your benefits in direct response to:

  • a specific, negative "hot button" or problem which they've expressed that you can make better or solve, or
  • some strong positive preference that the prospect has just expressed.

Closing Summary Tip:

Continuously nurture your best prospects, seeding in their mind your main and vividly stated differentiating benefit and providing ideas and help at "non-sales" times. Make every aspect of your behavior, booth and promotional material repeat, reflect and reinforce that benefit before, during and right after the conference and later, again to your hottest prospects

©1999 by Kare Anderson. All rights reserved.


Kare Anderson is a behavioral futurist who speaks and writes about "Say It Better" methods of thoughtful communication, conflict resolution, cross-promotion and outreach, and multisensory techniques to create more memorable on-site experiences. An Emmy-winning former TV commentator, Wall Street Journal reporter she’s a national columnist in 98 monthly magazines (from Gourmet Retailer to Broadcast Engineering), nine-time author ( Getting What You Want, Pocket Cross-Promotions, Make Yourself Memorable, Beauty Inside Out, Cutting Deals With Unlikely Allies, Resolving Conflict Sooner . . .) and publisher of the "Say It Better" online newsletter now read by over 17,000 people in 32 countries, which is available free when you sign the guest book at her web site at www.sayitbetter.com. Anderson is the co-founder of The Compelling Communications Group

Learn how to reduce or avoid arguments for just $10.95. Kare's new book, Resolving Conflict Sooner, offers a powerfully simple four-step method, plus 100 specific persuasion techniques. Reserve a copy now at your bookstore. Or order one by sending a $12 check to "Kare Anderson" at our address below and we'll include the "Clarity Cards" pack of 40 tips + inspirational sayings for free.

See what others are already saying about Resolving Conflict Sooner. Go to http://www.sayitbetter.com and click on the cover of the book. And please sign the guestbook to let us know you were there.

Get a complete persuasion and conflict resolution course: Learn over 600 communication techniques in Kare's most comprehensive educational product, the 6-tape and book program called "The Resolution Response" -- an engrossing, easy-to-follow, idea-packed program for you and your organization for just $89.00.

The Compelling Communications Group
15 Sausalito Blvd., Sausalito, Ca 94965-2464
Telephone: (415) 331-6336
Fax: (415) 331-6661
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.sayitbetter.com





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