Trade show presentations tend to fall into three categories. On one end of the spectrum are the flashy eye-catching theatrical presentations that set tongues wagging but say little about the brand’s product or service featured in the booth. On the other end is the straightforward product shill which gets to the point but leaves attendees feeling like they’re being overtly marketed to.
The third category is the place you want to be kiddo. The best trade-show presentations fall somewhere in between the other two types—there’s enough creativity to draw a crowd but the product or service messaging is a constant throughout the presentation. Three tips for finding the balance.
1. Get Strategic. Rather than giving the typical song and dance at the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco Websense a web security company built its presentation around solutions to its customers’ business problems.
“Instead of just standing up there and doing a dog-and-pony show or just standing up there and saying ‘Here’s what our product does ’ we wanted to show them that we know what problems they’re facing and we want to help them solve those problems ” says Heather Cline the company’s corporate events manager.
The presentation focused on the travails of a character called the Defender who looked beyond traditional methods to contain threats to Internet security (Agency: Live Marketing Chicago).
2. Treat It as a Filter. One way to keep a presentation from boring attendees is to use it as an opportunity to identify quality leads says Kevan Allbee president of Orem UT-based Allbee Green Event Marketing. Offer an enticing overview of the product highlighting key points and then let attendees who are interested in the product move on to another area where they can explore the product or service one-on-one.
As a bonus the approach tends to make for a brief presentation that’s more digestible for all guests. Websense used that approach for its security presentation. After leading attendees through the Defender’s adventures the company directed them to demos instead of focusing on nitty-gritty product attributes.
3. Give It Gravitas. Having a high-level executive deliver the presentation (or part of it) can be a way to draw more attention than the typical actor or model would—and you get someone knowledgeable enough to address the product’s strengths and attributes without it feeling scripted or phony. Memory technology manufacturer SanDisk for example has used executive vp Nelson Chan for some presentations. “When you have a high-level person presenting it adds stature and authority ” says Mike Wong senior public affairs manager for the company. “Plus he can offer a broader higher-level perspective.”