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The Three Ps


If there's not anything "in it" for attendees, then there's no reason for them to waste time visiting your booth.
One of my favorite questions to ask exhibit managers is, "Why should attendees visit your booth?" The answers are always fairly telling.

Far too often, exhibitors seem flummoxed – and somewhat irritated – by my inquiry, as if their company name or offerings should be reason enough. And for a handful of well-known brands, I suppose that may be sufficient. But more often than not, it takes a little something extra to woo passersby out of the aisles.

At its most basic level, my little question is similar to the "WIIFM" principle, which asks "What's in it for me?" The idea is simple. If there's not anything "in it" for attendees, then there's no reason for them to waste time visiting your booth and chatting it up with staffers.

When exhibitors supply an answer to my query, their responses almost always fall into one of three categories, which I like to call the three Ps: product, pricing, and promotion. So to help you proactively formulate your answer to what I believe is among the most important question marketers can ask themselves, here's a down and dirty guide to each of the proverbial Ps.

The first P is the most common. Almost every company believes that its products are a bona fide attraction. But this is often fueled more by a superiority complex than an objective evaluation of an offering's attractiveness. If you're launching a new product, pitting it against competitors' wares, or engaging in efforts to educate current and prospective clients about why your doohickey is better than anyone else's, then I suppose relying on your products may prove sufficient. But that only works if what's on display is truly revolutionary.

A far less common P these days is pricing. A decade ago, it was fairly commonplace to see exhibitors offering at-show discounts. For one reason or another, this P has gone the way of paper lead forms, and it's relatively rare to see exhibiting companies incentivizing clients and prospects in this manner. I think this is probably one of the most effective and underutilized tools in marketers' arsenals. If generating on-site orders or shortening the sales cycle is a goal for your organization, then offering even a nominal discount is an obvious answer to the aforementioned WIIFM question. After all, if the only way attendees can cash in on that special price is by signing on the dotted line before they leave the show, you've added both a tangible lure and a sense of urgency that should get your exhibit on their must-see lists.

Finally, the third P is my personal favorite. If your products aren't new, or you're not able to offer attractive at-show discounts, then you better be incorporating a promotional element or two. And when it comes to this third, arguably most powerful P, the possibilities are endless. From pre-show mailers and microsites to in-booth presentations and integrated programs, promotions can help to differentiate you from other exhibitors, providing clients and prospects a reason to give your exhibit a second glance. Granted, many exhibiting companies tend to look down on in-booth games and giveaways as gimmicky. But if those gimmicks get bodies into your booth space, I'd argue that they're less superfluous than they are successful.

Despite whatever preconceived notions you may have about your program or its limitations, all three Ps are both affordable and applicable to your brand. You may not need the full trifecta for each trade show on your calendar, but if you don't adopt and adapt at least one of these Ps to help you accomplish whatever objectives you've set forth, you're not maximizing your company's investment.

Bottom line, if there's no reason for attendees to set foot inside your space, there's no reason for you to be surprised when they walk right past your booth. E


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