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Picking Your Expo Dream Team-->
The TEST Huddle Blog is the new home for all software testing articles produced for EuroSTAR by the software testing community. Moving forward the EuroSTAR blog (that’s right here!) is the place for company news, conference announcements, exhibition news, advice and information for attendees, would-be speakers and other partners.
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Picking your Expo Dream Team
You’ve committed a chunk of your marketing budget to exhibit at a forthcoming conference – so what next to get the best results? The responsibility of making your Expo participation a success lies in the hands of the people who man the stand each day during the exhibition. Choosing your expo personnel is something you should consider carefully and doing this well can yield fantastic results.
What are your objectives?
Your participation in a conference is one cog in a well-orchestrated marketing strategy. It should be fulfilling a specific need – whether that’s to support a new product release, to grow leads or to build brand awareness, the objective will be key to influencing every aspect of how you approach the exhibition including choosing exhibition booth staff.
Help, My Booth Staff Don’t Even Know Each Other!
For larger companies it’s really tough to manage a team who only become a team on show days. Often these people are located all over the globe. Not an easy ask that you then expect them to turn up at this show, and look like they’re all singing from the same hymnbook.
You’ve invested time and effort in choosing which show to attend, dedicated your marketing budget, sweated blood & tears choosing a great stand location, and then what happens… these folks show up but can’t work together! Avoid any chance of misunderstandings by scheduling a series of calls, maybe one per week for 3 weeks before a big show to plan the approach.
Everyone needs to know their role, and more importantly make sure everyone knows who’s in charge. If you have a problem or complaint to make to the show’s management, send one person, not everybody.
How many people do I need?
You’ll need at least two people. How many more than that will depend on the size of your Expo stand and the additional costs associated with every extra staff member. From my experience you don’t need 2, 4, or 6 experts on the stand, you need 1, and everyone else just needs to know where to find her/him!
Who will attendees want to speak to?
Do they have in-depth product knowledge? This is especially important at a techie conference like EuroSTAR where virtually all attendees are well versed in relevant jargon and possess considerable technical knowledge. They will look to evaluate the type of product you are offering and how it satisfies (or fails to satisfy) their needs. They will be happy to pick holes in your product – “what’s this feature for?”, “why doesn’t it do this?”, “have you thought of this?”
If your staff are not technically minded and up-to-speed on the product, then your objectives should take account of this. If your goal is to demonstrate the technical capabilities of a product, then the team should have someone who can do this confidently.
If you have a difficult customer or tough questions on the show floor, make sure everyone knows which booth staffer can best handle that – divert the question to the relevant team member, don’t bluff of sidestep the question!
Are the staff “on-brand”?
Is it easy to identify who is working on the Expo stand? “Yeah, they’re wearing suits!” – but what if everyone at the event is wearing a suit? It’s important to know what attendees typically wear to an event in order to help decide how your staff might stand out from the crowd.
<< The Borland Cowboys at the 2013 EuroSTAR Conference
Training & Networking
Experienced expo staff are expert networkers. They are sent to Expos for this reason – they make the expo a success for their company. This can take time to get right but how well you prepare goes hand-in-hand with how well your staff perform at the event.
Training should address how to engage with attendees – things like spotting opportunities to get more face time with delegates. For example at dinners and social events sit at different tables, and have different conversations and experiences. At a community conference like EuroSTAR, this immediately elevates your credibility. It can be hard to break down the divides between exhibitors and delegates – we’re all essential components of this community – and what better place to break down barriers than at dinner?
We’ve talked before about the common exhibition mistakes – many of these are directly related to poor preparation of your expo plan and staff not being hyper-aware of giving the best impression to prospective customers. Daily planning meetings and evening debriefs are a great way of ensuring that everybody is focused on the task at hand and achieving the objectives you’ve set.
P.S. Don’t forget your business cards. It’s not just about gathering them, make sure you have plenty of your own – and if a product developer (or techie person) isn’t attending, bring a few of his/her business cards too. They might come in useful – for example, if a prospective customer’s decision hinges on a technical requirement that Expo staff don’t have the answer to.