A Busy Time at BICSI
by Cam Rogers
Ah, BICSI Tampa. The sun. The surf. The warm weather. An engaging trade show that provides awesome leads. What more can two sales guys from Colorado hope for in January? (Did we mention the warm(ish) weather?)
RLE has purchased booth space at BICSI for quite a few years, and we’ve learned that BICSI sets the bar high. They’re organized, communicate well with their exhibitors, offer many opportunities to promote products outside just booth space, and draw a qualified audience.
So what did we learn this year? BICSI has raised that bar one notch higher.
Saturday’s the Day to Get There
Everyone’s booths have to be set up by 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, so it worked best for us to fly in on Saturday night. That way, we were rested and ready to go Sunday morning.
You know what starts a show off right? When you show up to set up your booth and the booth is already there, just waiting for you to arrive. Thank you, BICSI! They’ve got the process down. So do yourself a favor and ship that booth ahead of time. BICSI will handle the logistics and do the heavy lifting. No muss, no fuss. Alleluia!
At BICSI, the expo floor is only open during select parts of the day. But you know what we’ve found? Since the actual expo hours are spread out, it gives attendees the chance to visit the expo for drinks and snacks as their schedules permits, and provides the exhibitors a relaxed environment for their product introductions.
So what do you do with that unscheduled time during the days? Well, you should sit in on some educational sessions. Not only can you build on your knowledge base, but you can also network with the professionals and attendees that are also in the sessions.
Traveling to BICSI gave us the opportunity to put in some face time and build relationships with folks we usually only speak with on the phone. Before we left our home office, Jon and I took the time to schedule meetings with a few of our Tampa-based partners. We had some great conversations and handed out guest passes to the BICSI exhibit hall – BICSI provided us with a stack of guest passes. Our contacts used the passes to walk through the BICSI exhibits, and one was even a winner in our raffle drawings!
Speaking of Raffles – Everyone Loves Prizes!
We’re trying out some new trade show strategies this year, and raffles are a fundamental component of our strategy.
Here’s how our raffles work. An attendee stops by the booth and meets us. We set them up with one raffle ticket and a hang tag that sports our “Leaks Exposed” messaging. They hang the tag from their credentials or tote bag using our handy dandy sensing cable clip. (Thumbs up to Jason in our manufacturing department. He assembles these clips and makes sure our supply is full before we head out to a show.)
Attendees walk around – to sessions, to lunch, to the coffee cart – wearing the hang tag. Now here’s where it pays off for everyone. When we’re walking the show, we’re looking for folks wearing the tags. When we catch them in the act, we give them extra raffle tickets, which really improve their chances of scoring a prize. For us it’s a win – not only are we getting added eyes on our products (people are wearing our cable!) we also strike up another conversation with someone we’ve seen at our booth. That extra connection with attendees is so valuable, and helps build ongoing relationships.
The raffles themselves were successful and fun. Attendees had to be present to win, which brought them back to our booth for another visit. When it was time for the raffle, the isle in front of our booth filled up (only to clog the isle – which is never a bad thing to have happen in front of your booth at a trade show)!
We did end up calling out more than a few names of people who were not present, but that only helped build excitement for the attendees. A great emcee never hurts, either!
The Payoff Is In the People
Let’s be honest. Getting up early Tuesday and Wednesday to work an hour in the booth wasn’t particularly motivating. But this year we discovered the quality of the attendees that visited during that hour was amazing. Generally, the attendees who stopped by the booth in those morning hours had something worthwhile to discuss with us. This resulted in better conversations than the brief discussions and product intros we were doing during the longer evening hours. Better conversations = more qualified leads = better sales opportunities!
Of course we scanned badges at BICSI. We feel that quality trumps quantity. After all, if we wanted to gather as many names as possible we could just purchase the attendee list once BICSI’s over. Jon and I made a point only to scan the badges of attendees that had an interest in RLE products.
The result? More than 135 qualified leads, which is more than RLE has ever gathered at a single trade show. The leads are a good mix of end customers, manufacturer’s reps interested in representing our products, and manufacturers interested in incorporating RLE’s products into their offerings. The diversity of attendees at the event provided a great mix of potential opportunities.
We’ll Be Back!
Bottom line – from our perspective there were no let-downs at BICSI this year.
It is a well-orchestrated event that creates the opportunity for manufactures (like RLE) to present their products. The audience BICSI draws is well-qualified. They certainly understand the need for our products and see the opportunities they create. While trade shows are a large investment for any company, BICSI’s an investment we’re more than willing to make.
What do you think? Did you attend BICSI Tampa? Have similar or different experiences? Let us know in our comments section – we’d love to hear about your time spent at BICSI!
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