Why Demo at Trade Shows?

To meet people who might be interested in your product, market your brand and sell stuff.

So if you are thinking about opening a booth at a trade show, you should be considering how well you can meet these three objectives.

Unfortunately many of the trade shows that I have been to end up looking like glorified car boot sales where hundreds of vendors are touting their wares to the general public.

Meeting People:

People that are visiting a trade show are:

  • Potential product buyers – these are the people who make the purchasing decisions. They are looking for the business reason for buying your product. Your product demonstration needs to be able explain how it will save money for their business or provide clear value for money.
  • Potential or existing users of your product – these folk want to see and hear how your product will improve their lives or solve a problem that they have.
  • Potential or existing competitors to your product – Competitors will be out there doing the same thing. Make sure that you have the best story.

From a product management perspective it is a great opportunity to listen to the questions that these visitors are asking, and what problems they are trying to solve. Here you have customers (and competitors) that you can talk to face to face that you might otherwise have to spend $1000’s on customer research and focus groups.

Use the opportunity to record as much customer information as possible without being intrusive. Remember these are pre-qualified leads and they are going to walk right up to you and tell you what they want. If your product doesn’t do what they want it to do, ask them what they are trying to do and record it as a potential opportunity for later.

So this is great for the product manager, but what is in it for the visitor? Why should they stop and spend time at your booth and tell you their story. This is where the opportunity for the Demo comes in.

Marketing Your Brand:

The Demo should not just be a walk through of your product’s features. The visitor needs to be drawn into the story of the product and how it can potentially solve the customer problems that have been previously identified.

The Demo should not just be about selling. It provides an opportunity to educate the visitors about your product and get them to (hopefully) start thinking about it.

With these objectives in mind you need to:

  • identify a problem that the visitor has
  • show clearly how your product can solve it
  • make it simple for them to remember your product story

When they walk away and go to the next booth what is the one thing that will they remember?

Sell Stuff

In some cases a person will walk up to your booth and want to make a purchase. What will you be able to offer them? This will clearly depend on your product but you must be able to provide a clear commitment to completing a sale. This could be the ability to process a sale on the spot, or provide a generic quote, or book time in your calendar for a proper sales interview.

This may not be the main purpose of the trade show but it is the ultimate objective of being there in the first place. If someone wants to buy from you, make sure you have something you can sell.