Display Booth Marketing Strategies

by: Darol Dickinson

Longhorn Booth
A bright colored booth with materials, photos, a TV playing and a heavy stream of traffic is a positive opportunity to start new producers in the business.

Texas Longhorn display booth marketing is one of the great ways to develop new Longhorn producers. Let's look at booth strategies, and how to squeeze the system for the most it will yield. This is a check list of ideas for effective exhibiting. It doesn't just happen. Rather, it is the result of meticulous PREPARATION, PRESENTATION, and POST-SHOW FOLLOW-UP.

Nearly any location where a lot of rural type people attend an event will work. A booth is a "growing" method. It is a way to grow new producers, educate, personally meet and tease them about the excitement of starting their own Texas Longhorn herd.

Budget for a well planned event. It will require display space rental, electric connections, large color graphics, product displays, a power point or TV presentation, bright lights, a standing display back drop, colorful materials, volunteers, training, and lastly a follow-up plan.

Keep in mind this is a competition. While you are working to expand your cattle sales several other people will also be doing the same thing. Don't be surprised when the Angus booth right beside you may have a $30,000 budget and the most elaborate display that money can buy. With well thought out preparation you can compete and succeed no matter who is beside you.

Select an event that will have potential Texas Longhorn buyers. Locate a spot in the exposition area that has a good traffic pattern. You want to be near street entries, halls, doors, and traffic areas near food service, or known popular spots.

A unique display, different from the others will attract attention. Make the back drop as tall as possible-----the tallest display wins. Have very bright lights shining on your graphics--the brightest lights help grab the most attention.

Assume competitive displays will have professional graphics. Yours have to be as good or better. Take your best photos of your very best cattle.

Keep the display area neat and clean. Dispose of waste promptly, vacuum the floor daily, make sure handout materials are piled straight and orderly.

Prior to the event, design condensed, colorful, positive selling materials for handouts. An all purpose general information brochure is the very best. Do not, DO NOT place handouts near the quick fingers of children. They will grab a handful of colorful materials and be gone. Require visitors to enter the display area to acquire promotional materials. Provide materials compared to each person's interest and financial capabilities. Obviously good prospects should get the whole package, free promo DVD, post cards, brochures, etc. Others may only need a handshake, business card, and a pleasant sales pitch. Make the investment fit the potential.

If the display is sponsored by an affiliate or group of people, every display guest should receive a printed list of the names of all sponsors with their contact info.

Do not assume the booth visitors will ever contact anyone. They may say, "We will call later," but most won't. Get their names and addresses. Don't let them write down their addresses. Just because they can read their writing doesn't mean that you can. Record EVERY person who appears to be legitimate and a capable buyer. Only bother to record names of good prospects. Make notes about each person; ranch size, number of cattle owned, size of mobile home, etc. Guard these names and addresses; don't misplace the list of visitors. Take the list home every night. These are valuable names. Your success depends on harvesting these inquiries and what you do with them later.

If this is an association or group effort make sure every volunteer has written procedures on how to get to the display area, parking procedures, grounds entry passes, display open-for-business procedures, handout instructions, display lockup procedures, and detailed instructions on how to deal with the public.

The booth staff should consist of at least two people. Every one must have time for personal breaks. If it is a good show sometimes several sales conversations will be conducted at the same time. The number of booth staff needed will be determined by the traffic flow. Maybe more than two are needed.

Think of a display booth as a store. You are standing in the store window and all the people going by need a Longhorn herd. You may notice the crowd getting slightly numb, and their feet hurt after looking at hundreds of displays. At this point old fashioned carnival "hawking" will be the best tool. Be prepared with one line conversation starters; DO YOU RAISE TEXAS LONGHORNS? WHERE IS YOUR RANCH? HAVE YOU CONSIDERED PUTTING SOME FLASH IN YOUR PASTURE? Develop your own script that will work on the crowd. Never ask, "May I help you?" "Hello," "How are you?" It doesn't work. You always get a no answer.

Many displays use drawings to get names and addresses. An item is offered as a free prize for one lucky person. This normally is a waste of good time and money. Just because every little kid wants something free does not mean they will buy a cow, or that you will want to send them a $10 promotion packet when you get home after the show. The best idea ever was when an old rancher held a drawing for anyone who wanted 5 free units of Texas Longhorn semen to breed their cows. He told everyone the lucky winner would get 5 straws of free semen. (They had to pay the shipping) No one signed up except people who had cows. No one signed up that would not breed their cows to a Longhorn bull. After the show was over, when the free semen drawing was to be held, to their surprise, each one who signed up received a letter that they were the winner! The old rancher, being more clever than the average cowboy, knew once they started raising a few Longhorn calves they would want more. He had a legitimate mailing list and everyone who got free semen was his own future customer. Considering the costs of the booth, the semen cost was small compared to how many people started into the business. When they wanted to buy more Longhorns, who was the nicest fellow they could think of to buy from? That is professional boothmanship!

Stay on message. Each display hour may have an actual cost of $30 to $60. Don't talk about the weather, water melon, bad government or sports. Talk about what you are there to sell, and don't forget it.

Wear appropriate attire. Dress neat and by all means western for the occasion. Wear comfortable shoes. Comfort is better than beauty. Wear a western hat; no ball caps or farm overalls. Always stand to greet guests. Eating and drinking in the display area should be minimal. Do not have food laying around. This isn't a picnic, it's business.

Cell phones are good, but don't turn your back on a guest to answer the phone. Have one person do phone sales while another deals with live bodies. Cell phones aren't a status symbol, they are cheap and everyone has some. Don't let the rude handling of cell phone calls reduce the effectiveness of the effort. No cell phone prospect is as good as a real live body.

Volunteers must be ready to greet every passer by. Don't let the crowd miss the only really important display in the whole building. You must be quick to stand, smile, shake hands, and start talking about Longhorns. Volunteers should be well versed to answer detailed questions about the cattle. Have photos of cattle for sale with printed price sheets if you expect to make sales.

Longhorn DVD's should run constantly. It should be loud enough to hear above the crowd. (A TV running with no picture shows the volunteers aren't paying attention.)

Don't allow "huddling" in the display. Friends will huddle and visit when good prospects are wanting to ask questions. Don't huddle and turn your back side to the public. Huddlers fail! Huddling tells the public you don't care.

If you are not sure what to do, here are some objectives: Meet buyers face to face, Develop contacts, Identify special consumer interests, Diffuse Longhorn critics, Check out the competition, Create a positive public image, Learn more about consumer attitudes, Distribute product information, Introduce new sires or inventory, Understand consumer problems, Dramatize your message, Obtain customer feedback, Enhance word-of-mouth market, Create a customer/client list, Sign up new affiliate and TLBAA members, Reach unknown and new prospects, Generate qualified leads and prospects, and Prove you are alive and well.

Evaluate. Set goals of inquiry numbers per day and numbers of memberships enrolled. Divide the number of inquiries and new memberships into the total cost and that will be the real cost each of doing business. Evaluate your own, and other associates' success. Decide if a booth display is the right way to promote your product? Is it practical? Is it more successful financially than placing display ads in trade magazines or using direct mail, shows or sales? Maybe the right thing is all of the above?

Display booth work is fun when well planned and faithfully conducted. It can be a major source of new blood for an organization. It is great to meet interesting new Longhorn prospects every few minutes.

After the event, the real fruit develops. (People are busy at events and seldom whip out a check book.) Send follow up materials to every valid address. Call the good ones and keep in contact. Communication should be soon after the event while the personal contact is fresh on their minds. Invite them to your ranch to see the cattle. If it is an association effort, send a list of inquiries to every member that helped sponsor the booth. The spin-offs are numerous and often very profitable.

Good luck... be determined.

You will keep getting better and better with every event!