Every year you have a show in the same distant city, and every year your boss says, “Use old such-and-such from the local office as a booth staffer. That way we don’t have to pay for airfare and hotel to send someone from here.”
At first you thought it was a good idea, too — a way to save about a thousand dollars. But after a couple of years, you’ve realized that old such-and-such is actually a horrible trade show booth staffer. How horrible?
- He hides inside the booth and doesn’t try to engage attendees
- He’s got a negative attitude, is unapproachable and unwelcoming
- He’s got poor product knowledge
- He spends all his time talking (and complaining) to your other booth staffers, tying them up, too
- He gets a fraction of the leads of other booth staffers
- He doesn’t write notes on the lead cards from the few conversations he gets
Unfortunately, your boss hasn’t figured out the problem yet, and won’t unless you tell her. To get the best staff that you need, you’ll have to point out to your boss the true cost of this “free” staffer, and make the case for spending the extra money to get a worthwhile staffer instead.
The hidden cost of a poor performing trade show booth staffer
While you saved on airfare and hotel, you have other, bigger costs you’ve now incurred:
- You miss out on potentially dozens of leads, and the sales from those leads, that a better booth staffer would get.
- Attendees who do talk to the poor booth staffer will form a poorer opinion of your company
- Other booth staffers will be dragged down by the bad booth staffer’s attitude, and they will in turn get fewer leads
The average cost of a trade show lead is $212, according to ceir.org. If that poor performing booth staffer only took about 5 leads at that show each of the past two year, but your average staffers are getting about 25 (my guesstimates based on experience, yours may vary), you can make the case to your boss that a better staffer would add $4,240 in value to your marketing. Here’s how: 25-5=20 leads, times $212 cost per lead, equals $4,240 in extra value. That’s over 4 times more value, by spending the $1,000 to “ship” a proven booth staffer there.
If there is no one else on your staff available to replace him, consider hiring a local trade show host or hostess (a professionally dressed, self-motivated oasis of sunshine). If you’re concerned they don’t know enough about your products, you can train them enough to engage visitors, and then they’ll feed the rest of your booth staff with more leads. They may even live in the show city and not require travel expenses, and end up costing you less than paying for your own staffer’s travel expenses.
So be willing to say no to a “free” booth staffer if he can’t get the job done. Only bring booth staffers who are up to the task, even if that means paying more to get them there. You’ll get more leads, your ROI will improve, your other booth staffers will do better, and you’ll present a better image for your company.