Every business needs qualified leads. Trade shows are an effective, efficient venue for lead retrieval, of course, but if you look around, you will see other examples of how businesses generate leads through face-to-face marketing.
I live in Manhattan. People who don’t live in New York City think of it as a big, impersonal place, but the fact is, New York City consists of dozens of neighborhoods, each with its distinct character. Each neighborhood, in turn, consists of blocks, each with its own characters (residents). Using trade show parlance, think of each resident as an attendee and each merchant in the neighborhood as an exhibitor.
My particular block has just two merchants, each at its westernmost end. One of the two merchants is the Mansion Coffee Shop. My guess is that it is probably the most successful coffee shop in Manhattan, which is saying something since there are some 19,000 restaurants in New York City, of which at least 1,500 are coffee shops.
Why is The Mansion so successful? The owner, Phil Phillips, is a master marketer. My guess is that Phil prefers to be known as a restaurateur, but as excellent as his food is, to my mind what sets him apart is his marketing ability. You only have to walk by The Mansion to know the season or holiday being celebrated. The windows are painted with images that convey the spirit of the occasion. Often there are decorations on the adjacent sidewalks, as well – pumpkins, haystacks, decorated Christmas trees, American flags, Valentine hearts – my words can’t do it justice. On New Years Eve Phil has his own version of a hospitality suite. He throws a formal party, complete with Champagne, for his customers – on the house.
What really sets Phil and The Mansion apart is that he knows darn near every resident on the block, no small feat since most of the buildings lining the street are 20 stories tall or more. Not only does he address each either by name or by some honorific, such as “doctor”, “judge”, or “counselor”, but he has “qualified” them. That is, he knows something of their personal history and their likes and dislikes.
Phil will point to an apartment across the street and relate that Margaret Truman used to live there. When she came in to the Mansion she would order such and such. As a passerby ambles past us as we chat, Phil will relate that he is a professor at Columbia. And the young woman that gives him a wave? An actress in a Broadway show.
What if each of us, as trade show exhibitors, took the same pains with our booths and made as much effort as Phil Phillips does to know our prospects and customers? The effort certainly pays off for Phil. His place is busy from 7:00 am until at least 10:00 in the evening, later on weekends. At a trade show, we should be engaged beyond the exhibit hours. Phil has a 365-day challenge. At any given trade show, we as exhibitors typically only have a 72 hour challenge.
If a coffee shop can be made to stand out, why not your exhibit at your next trade show?