Egan’s Entries On Exhibits & Events
A common goal for many exhibitors is to increase the foot traffic within the exhibit: getting more people to sit for your live presentation or encouraging more people to interact with your demo stations. While staffers can do this, more and more exhibitors are finding it far more efficient to use professional crowd gatherers for these purposes.
Why? Believe it or not, a big part of what makes professional crowd gatherers better at this than members of your staff is ego. That’s right. When you’re asking strangers to enter the booth or take part in a demo over and over again, all day long, you’re going to hear a lot of “no’s.” Pros don’t take offense at this. Like good salespeople, they recognize that, to get someone to say yes, they’ll have to hear a certain number of no’s. While staffers may find this draining—or demeaning—pros just keep at it, without keeping score or letting it bother them.
Professional crowd gatherers are a far cry from the “booth babes” of the past, when attractive—and sometimes scantily clad—women were in the booth just to draw the leering eye of the mostly male audience of trade show attendees. In most cases, they knew nothing about the product or service the exhibitor was promoting. They were just there for the titillation factor.
Today’s crowd gatherers dress in business attire, can be either male or female, and have some knowledge of marketing. They do their homework prior to the show, so they’re familiar with the exhibitor’s product or service. And, even if they can’t answer attendees’ questions, they know who to bring into the conversation to get those questions answered.
According to Mike Hamilton, president of GetSynchronicity, a full service experiential brand marketing firm that specializes in trade show presentations, “being a crowd gatherer requires relentless enthusiasm. After all, these people are on the front line, making first impressions for the company they’re serving. They understand that their #1 goal is to move more people off the aisle and into the booth, operating on the assumption that the more people they’re able to engage in the exhibitor’s marketing message, the greater the likelihood of connecting with new prospects.
“Staffers don’t always make this connection. They may be more interested in making a sale (which isn’t a bad thing), explaining how the product or service works (again, not a bad thing), or just talking with prospects (still not bad). What happens when your staff gets caught up with attendees in this way is that you lose the ‘attract’ loop of the machine, which is intended to feed the presentation, where the product or service will be explained.”
I asked Mike if there were any common mistakes companies make when using professional crowd gatherers:
“Yes. They don’t utilize them fully enough. They don’t take the time to engage them in advance of the show, and fill them in on the primary sales messages. These people can be facilitating the sales process—much more so than most suppliers.”
If you take the time to instruct your crowd gatherers in the basics of your product or service, along with who your target market is, and how your marketing process works, a pro is going to be able to help you do some prequalifying: bringing the “right” people into the booth, making introductions to the right people on staff, and helping to move the sales process forward.
Crowd gatherers are often used when an exhibitor is hosting a live presentation in their exhibit. The crowd gatherers can encourage people to come into the theater area, fill out lead cards, get their badges swiped (or use any other lead capturing system), handle prize drawings after the presentation, encourage the flow of booth visitors from the theater to elsewhere in the exhibit, then re-set the theater space for the next presentation.
So are crowd gatherers necessary when you don’t have a live presentation, I asked Mike.
“Yes, and perhaps even more so. Many exhibitors spend extraordinary amounts of money on interactive exhibits, but most show visitors just walk right by. A crowd gatherer can invite people in, familiarize them with the game or other interactive media, encourage them as they play, and keep them involved—especially by inviting them to visit the rest of the exhibit or speak with a company representative once they’ve had the interactive experience.”
Crowd gatherers can also run meeting rooms and reception desks, as well. Cycling these workers from one station (outside the live presentation stage) to another (reception desk duty) can break up the monotony of doing one thing all day long.
I asked Mike for an example of how crowd gatherers had helped a GetSynchronicity client:
“Our client was exhibiting at a show with 20,000 attendees. Their objective was to interact personally with 75 of those attendees. With the help of experienced crowd gatherers, we were able to attract 93 highly qualified prospects.” That’s more than a 20% increase in the number of qualified prospects the exhibitor reached with the help of professional crowd gatherers.
Could your company use an increase like that in the number of attendees you attract to your message? Then maybe professional crowd gatherers would be a good investment for your next trade show. Have you used crowd gatherers successfully in the past? Share your experience with your colleagues by leaving a comment here. Need help finding professional crowd gatherers? Email me at the address below. And best of luck with your next show!
Dave Egan is head writer at Writers Direct Group, a full-service outsource writing resource for live trade show presentations, event theming, product demos, website content and other written- or spoken-word business communications. Contact him at Dave@WritersDirectGroup.com or 877-7GET-WDG [877-743-8934]. This article was first published online by the International Center for Exhibitor & Event Marketing (ICEEM) at http://www.iceem.net/