1. Define specific and measurable goals:
Probably the greatest key to success. Otherwise, you can get lost in the flood of people and end up with nothing at the end of the day. Next, plan how to execute and reach those goals.
Our goals were:
- Hear product feedback from at least 50 American users (Bizzabo is a business discovery networking app for events, it wasn't very difficult to find people who needed help with networking…).
- Develop personal relationships with at least 3 industry bloggers.
- Connect with high profile event organizers (we had a target list ready)
2. The booth:
- Be different – raffling a new iPad is not being different. We gave people the opportunity to fly remote helicopters and land them on our branded helipad. 100% of the people who played with the helicopter wanted to hear what Bizzabo is all about. It helps if your activity or giveaways are related to your startup, but it is really NOT a must. Being unique and interesting is.
- Look cool - Wear your startup t-shirt, build a beautiful and attractive stand, screen your product video – catch the eye of everyone who passes by.
- Wear comfortable shoes! This is very important since you’re going to be standing. A LOT.
- Have a stapler and notepads. For every relevant lead, attach his/her business card to the note and write the action item and what you talked about.
- Have a spare t-shirt for the night or for a spontaneous meeting so you won't need to go back to your hotel.
- Have a lot of mint in your breath ;)
- Prepare 30 second, 60 second and 5 minute versions of your pitch.
- Practice on your family and friends to make sure your pitch is inspiring and clear.
- Try to understand who is in front of you. Don't be shy to ask, and adapt your pitch accordingly. Sales 101.
- Create an alternative for the pitch. Sometimes you're busy pitching while another attendee wants to learn more- you must have something to keep them busy while they wait. At our booth, we had 2 iPads with earphones showing our product video. Worked great.
5. Social media:
- Have a team back home monitoring and engaging via Twitter. It’s a great tool for attracting prospective users and journalists to your booth. Since you can't leave your stand, Twitter can be your tool to reach out to VIPs. We had Boaz, Bizzabo’s third Co-Founder, along with a couple of friends tweeting and inviting people to hear a pitch or fly our helicopter. By monitoring the discussions around the event’s hashtag we managed to get an awesome article in TheNextWeb, which was definitely worth the entire visit (checkout our blog post on how it was done, step-by-step).
Overall, if you're pre-launch (or right after launch), looking to "touch and feel" the American audience, generate leads to investors or gain additional exposure – The Startup-Alley can be a great place for you. Remember to come prepared, be goal oriented and work hard to execute your plan.