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Demonstrating Intangibles

By David Siskind


In an environment where competition for visitors' attention is at its highest and yet their attention span is at its lowest, using demonstrations is a great technique to help you get traffic to your booth.

Allowing attendees to experience your products and services with as many of their senses as possible (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) elevates their level of interest and commitment." Food show exhibitors allow their visitors to sample their products, " high technology exhibitors encourage attendees to try out the equipment and automobile companies let the visitor sit in their latest model."

"But what about exhibitors who do not have a product to experience. Are they doomed to trade show mediocrity?" Absolutely not. The topic of demonstrating is applicable to all exhibitors whether your offering is tangible or not.

    Here are a few tips to help you develop a demonstration for your intangible.
Decide what you are selling
There is an old saying that goes "Customers buy benefits not features". This is true for tangible products and especially true for those selling services. The first test is deciding what your service has that is of interest to your customer. If you said, "access to a great network of professionals, forty years of experience, on-line 24 hour accessibility, customized solutions or governmental or industrial compliance, you are left with the question, "how can I bring these features to life?"

When you approach your product and ask what do you really sell from your customers point of view you will have important clues to creating a powerful demonstration.

Let's take this same list and look at it from another point of view:

  • Access to a network of professionals
  • Forty years of experience
  • On-line 24-hour accessibility
  • Customized solutions
  • Governmental or industrial compliance
  • We can save you time
  • You can feel secure
  • You will experience less anxiety
  • You have reduced conversion time
  • Minimize your concerns
Focus on the benefits
The next step is to brainstorm ideas that will bring these benefits (feel secure, less anxiety, reduced conversion time, and minimize concerns) to life and that will get the message through to your audience. Exploring the benefits of your intangible will help you develop your demonstration. Brainstorming will often reveal hidden ideas that can provide spectacular results. Here are some tips on running a brainstorming session.

Invite everyone involved in your program to a late afternoon session. This can include your sales staff, display people, administration etc. Explain that you are trying to come up with ideas to bring your benefits to life. Tell them for purposes of the exercise there are no limitations. All ideas are fair game.
Sit back and listen. One of the ways of killing a good brainstorming session is interjecting after each idea saying something like, "We have done that before," or "Are you kidding?"

After everyone has left sift through the ideas and look for the hidden gems. You will find little bits and pieces that can be strung together to produce a demonstration that will set you apart from the competition.

Discuss your idea with your booth builder, technical staff and sales staff and ask for refinements and feedback on the feasibility of the idea.

Remember to keep your demonstration short.
The attendees are suffering from information overload and adding more information to their already confused state of mind is counterproductive."Stay focused on the benefit" that is most likely applicable to the audience. Remember, Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Keep it interactive.
When you are preparing your demonstration find places for audience involvement by letting them touch a keyboard, flick a switch or answer a question helps improve their level of commitment.

Give your audience a reason to stay.
As interesting as your demonstration may be to you, not everyone will agree. Often you will need to add an incentive to have your audience stay for the whole demonstration. Have a draw for a prize given after the demonstration or a special gift to all of those who complete and hand in a lead form.

Leave them wanting more.
During your demonstration let them know that your service has many more benefits and that your booth staff is available to discuss these following the demonstration.

Demonstrating an intangible is possible. What is needed is that creative spark to find new and exciting demonstrations.

Barry Siskind is President of International Training and Management, a training company specializing in exhibitor training and business networking.
To contact him, call 416-783-5200 / 1-800-358-6079 (North America).