You’re thinking of hiring a professional corporate spokesperson to represent your brand at an upcoming tradeshow, sales meeting, partner conference, or on your website or next broadcast video asset. Good choice. It’s a wise investment and a strong credibility statement, one that tells your customers and potential clients you care about them, their time, and their interest in you and your services.
But what does an expert speaker actually do for you? Why spend the money for an outside vendor to talk about your services and solutions? And why not trust this important first level of marketing to one of your own people?
Based on my 15+ years in the tradeshow trenches, Exhibitor Magazine interviewed me last year to discover the primary arguments for using professional presentation, This is what they published.
Who is best suited to give your live booth presentation, a professional speaker or in-house expert?
With rare exception, great professional spokespeople will give superior brand representation. It’s not that your company employees can’t speak well or create strong connections, but an event marketer’s odds of success – highest potential for conversion from theatre to demo and demo to contract – increase when you partner with an expert spokesperson as your primary customer-facing method of communication.
Of course I’m biased. But that bias comes from years of watching, listening, and learning on the tradeshow floor.
In-house experts (designers, marketers, sales people, division VPs) are highly knowledgable about your technologies and the solutions they create and sell. But that doesn’t make them good at talking about those offerings, or telling your story in a way that engages your customer. Chances are your hired professional will serve you best.
But let’s assume you do in fact have the rare excellent speaker within your own ranks; shouldn’t you put them to the fore in your booth and let them tell your story to attendees rather than letting a vendor be your primary speaker? The short answer is no; it’s a penny wise and pound foolish mistake. I’ll explain.
When a company is lucky enough to have a brilliant mind on the payroll who’s also a brilliant storyteller, ask yourself an important staffing question: How is that valuable employee best deployed throughout our company’s tradeshow week? The strong in-house communicator who knows your product and how to talk about it with clients is a goldmine and should be free at all times to take meetings, connect with VIPs, press flesh, and ink deals. That expert doesn’t belong tied to your booth, on a set schedule, giving the same presentation multiple times per day.
The smart investment is a professional speaker to host your theatre and deliver your message to as many people as possible specifically to free up your best employees for completing the conversations your expert narrator begins. It’s the smart tradeshow investment, and even industry-leading hired spokespeople are, by comparison, incredibly affordable for the ROI and cache they provide.
What are the pros and cons of using live presentation in a trade show booth?
If a solution or product is market-ready and fills industry demand then that brand can only benefit from a professional live presentation. Pros and cons are then primarily measured by hiring the right or wrong spokesperson to represent you, an important choice that can make the difference between success and failure.
Great presenters will always be mistaken for a knowledgable member of your company, even by other employees who wonder which division that speaker works with and why they’ve never met her before. Credibility, enthusiasm, dedication to brand, and focus on the client are strong recommendations a quality professional speaker should offer, and these skills will assure an event marketer their single best customer-facing tool at any live event.
The wrong presenter (including mediocre and ‘decent’ presenters which make up the vast majority worldwide) creates a drain on the company he represents. He’s clearly a “hired gun” with little product knowledge, questionable credibility, and delivers your script like an actor, not a product expert. He’ll likely offer minimal personal connection to either your message or audience – it’s all about him, not the brand, and certainly not your customer.
You know these underperforming spokespeople when you see them on tradeshow floors; melodramatic, insincere, just going through the motions. They speak without authority, often dress inappropriately, and are clearly “slumming” in tradeshows as they wait for their next big commercial or movie audition. These mediocre presenters undermine both the client and the industry, and create the only understandable con argument for not using live presentation in your tradeshow booth.
Which is a shame because that con was only created when the event team hired the wrong speaker; the right spokesman would have been a home run.
What makes a presentation successful?
A strong presentation tells a story that connects with your potential customer and makes their lives easier and better by hearing it. The only successful presentation – given by a company member or by a hired professional spokesperson – is one that speaks directly to the listener and meets her where she lives. It has to be specifically meaningful to her immediate world.
The key to successful storytelling is telling the customer what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them. Too many marketers, product specialists, and legal departments get trapped in self-congratulation, touting history, awards, or deep detail of their own miraculous products and achievements when they should be directing their message to the client’s pain point in order to serve their needs.
This is an ineffective red herring approach that preaches instead of communicates. Listen to the customer, look him in the eye, solve his problem, make the presentation relevant and personal to him. A perfect spokesperson, telling the perfect story, will win that customer’s attention and trust every time, and increase opportunities for both brand conversion and long term loyalty.
Interview conducted by Claire Walling for Exhibitor Magazine http://www.exhibitoronline.com/topics/article.asp?ID=1909
SKM Creative is on tradeshow floors worldwide 30-60 times per year. We’ve served the world’s top brands and multinationals over a decade, providing unequalled tradeshow and event spokespeople, ambassadors, crowd gatherers, and product demonstrators to savvy marketing managers in the US and around the world. We won’t even offer a support professional to our clients until we’ve watched that vendor in action or worked side by side with them a minimum of three years. SKM delivers only top quality, so your investment always pays off. Even if you use another agency’s services, call us anytime with questions or concerns – we’re here to help.