Well, it has finally happened. The fascist namby-pamby nanny-police state have passed a bill for an outright ban on smoking. Quelle surprise! As an enthusiastic smoker I am going to find some experiences more unpleasant as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the future benefits to the health of the nation and generations who will grow up in a smoke free environment. My problem is more immediate – adjusting to non-smoking airports whilst your flight is delayed and not having the ability to ‘nip outside’ for a smoke and during winter months (of which we have more than our fair share) being deprived of being able to sit and enjoy a coffee with my cigarette.
I suppose it can be mirrored in an exhibition hall. Not just the smoking aspect, but the fact that many visitors will arrive and be apparently deprived of their particular ‘fix’. Many will want to see what’s new and find solutions to their existing problems. Exhibitors are not always sensitive to these needs – in some cases possibly blissfully ignorant to them. At trade shows they probably will have had to fight to get the time booked out of the office and doubtless will have to return able to justify the time investment. Consumer visitors will have in many cases paid good money and given up some of their precious free time to attend. They are, rightly so, demanding and increasingly less tolerant of bad stand behaviour and timewasters. We have all at some time experienced the anorak-wearing person on the street who is conducting a survey for some reason or another and been accosted having been subjected to a number of seemingly irrelevant or non-consequential questions. We all know how it feels when we are on a mission getting to our next appointment or engagement and we are being ‘interfered with’ and prevented or delayed in achieving our own objectives. Why do we assume our visitors will respond any differently when the personnel on our stand are apparently asking the same apparently inconsequential or irrelevant questions?
Pre-show marketing and a well targeted campaign can help drive the right people to your stand and once there your questions will be relevant and of interest. They will want to stop and get the answers they crave or a glimpse of the latest piñata-smashing tool with skin-feel grip and extendable counter weights. Don’t ask a mermaid if she would like to try your arm bands or rubber ring rather establish what she wants and offer the appropriate product or service that she is looking for. Marketing departments need to communicate more effectively with the sales people or the people who will populate the stand and they in turn need to understand what your customers and prospects really want. In my case it is nothing more glamorous than a quick conversation, preferably somewhere that offers good coffee and the right to enjoy a fag at the same time.