Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons learned from Ag Progress Days

On Thursday, I visited Ag Progress Days for the first time ever. It was an amazing combination of all things agriculture. Most of the vendors had well-designed displays. Unfortunately, a few displays were just not helpful. If you saw Jeff's tweets from APD last week, you may have read about some vendors reading books at their displays and not looking very welcoming to potential customers.

Besides the reading vendors, I think the most lackluster display can be seen above (I waited until someone stood in front of the table to protect the identity of the vendor). As you can see, the "display" consists of banner with the business's name, an employee sitting at the table (behind the standing man), and a few brochures. As a potenial customer, what would bring me to this booth? The banner doesn't even give an idea what kind of business it is.

When setting up a vendor booth, remember that you are there to attract customers. With hundreds of other vendors at Ag Progress Days, attendees have a lot to see. Your display should sell your business without you even having to say a word. In an article by Startup Nation, a website developed to give how-to advice to entrepreneurs, they give tips on creating a vendor booth.

Tip 1: Spend serious time planning. "Create specialized, eye-catching marketing materials...The idea is to get attendees to stop. Think of your marketing materials as 'bait for fishing in the aisles.'"

Tip 2: Put your signage in sharp focus. "Make your booth signage as focused as your overall trade-show approach. Your backdrop should be simple and concise – five or six words to tell your story; something that people cruising by will get quickly. Also, design two-sided business cards for the event. Include contact info and a photo on one side, with a list of benefits in working with you on the other."

Tip 3: Choose your floor location carefully. "Where you park yourself is key...A corner, an island, a peninsula is the most ideal situation because of traffic flow and visibility. And don’t sit. Sitting behind an exhibit booth sends the message that you’re not interested or aggressive. People will just keep on walking."

Startup Nation article

As an ag entrepreneur, have you participated in any fairs or shows? Have you developed a strategy for your display? Do you have any other advice for potential vendors?

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