Live product demonstrations are common at trade shows, but how useful is a standard product demo? Trade show attendees often have high expectations, so the average, ordinary demo won’t do. Instead, you’ve got to craft an engaging demonstration that goes beyond the demo clichés. The question is: How do you give a product demonstration that ticks all the right boxes?
When Is a Demo a Good Idea?
Exhibiting at trade shows gives you a chance to demonstrate products to potential customers. A well-designed demo can be a great way of getting attention. On the other hand, a demo that’s dry and dull won’t do your brand any favors, and it’s a waste of time and training.
A product demo almost always has value—at any event in any industry—but that value is entirely dependent on you and your trade show team, and the effort you put into developing the demo. If you’re not able to craft a great demo, your trade show resources are better spent elsewhere.
How to Take Your Product Demo to the Next Level
How do you give a demo presentation that really speaks to your audience? For many exhibitors, booth design and content focus on telling an audience what the company does. This is entirely the wrong approach to take. A product demonstration is like a story, where showing is always more effective than telling. Your booth, content, and staff should focus on showing an audience how a product or service can solve their problems.
1. Make Your Demo Audience-Specific.
Are you rolling out the same product demo for every show you attend? This isn’t just tedious and uninspiring, it’s actively counterproductive. If you’re showing the same demo to every audience, chances are, it’s not specific enough for any audience.
What to Do About It: Start crafting a new demo for each new event. The best product demos are the ones that are built for a specific audience. This is important because at each event, your audience is different.
For instance, imagine your company sells medical billing software. That software could be used in hospitals and medical clinics and by doctors and nurses, as well as administrative staff, depending on the setting. At one show, your audience might be private or group-practice doctors who want to know about the user-friendly features that will make this aspect of their work easier. At another show, your audience might be CFOs of hospitals, who are more interested in hearing about features that help them manage large numbers of patients. Your demo has to highlight the features they’re most likely to be interested in. Your product might have dozens of features, so you need to figure out which ones will resonate most strongly with any given audience.
2. Focus on Pain Points
Part of making a product demo audience-specific is focusing on pain points—the problems that hinder productivity or growth for your customers. Often, your audience isn’t even aware that those pain points exist. Finding them may involve some research.
What to Do About It: One option is to conduct a simple email survey with your current email subscriber base. Incentivize with a free content download or something similar to help boost the response rate. Another option is to ask your company’s sales team, if you have one. Good salespeople are in touch with customers on a regular basis, and they’re often the first ones to hear about new problems and trends. Once you understand what your audience’s pain points are, make sure your product demo addresses them.
Remember to make your product demo specific by addressing pain points that are relevant to the audience for a particular event.
3. Turn a Product Tour Into a Story
A standard demo is simple. It’s basically a tour of a product’s features—a quick summary of what it can do. It’s also boring, definitely not the kind of demo that’s going to grab the attention of your audience as they’re walking by your booth and then hold it for long enough to convert them.
There’s a reason why infomercials are so successful, and it’s rarely because the products are good. It’s because they tell a story about the product. When you give your audience a story they can insert themselves into, you help them imagine what it would be like to use your product. It’s much easier to move someone along to the next stage of the purchase cycle for a product if they can see themselves using it.
What to Do About It: Don’t just list off a set of product features: Tell a story about a situation where the product might be used. Then use that story to highlight the features that are most important to your audience. Better yet, do you have a case study you can use to tell the story? If it’s a real situation, using actual facts and figures can bring your product to life even more effectively.
4. Use Technology to Make It Happen
What if your product isn’t the kind that lends itself to a demo? Maybe it’s too big or too heavy to bring indoors. When this is the case, it’s tempting to give up on the idea of holding product demos altogether. There are better ways to deal with this problem.
What to Do About It: Go high-tech, and you don’t need to have products on-site to demo them. Some options include:
- A great media presentation can sub for a live product demo.
- Use virtual or augmented reality to put the audience right in the middle of the action.
- Project a holograph to showcase an outsized product.
5. Move the Sales Process Forward
How do you close out each demo session? A standard product demo might finish with a summary of the main features and benefits of the product before turning the audience loose. If this is how you close yours, you’re wasting the best opportunity you have to move the sales process forward. And you’re wasting the chance to increase the number of leads you get out of each demo session.
What to Do About It: Don’t assume that your audience knows what the next move is. Tell them precisely what they need to do to express their interest, whether it’s a one-on-one meeting or an exchange of contact information. A precise call-to-action is always a good way to improve your lead count, and it’s no different just because you’re at a trade show!
6. Stand Out from the Crowd
For attendees, trade shows can be grueling events. There’s so much to see and do, and many attendees have packed schedules with little free time for unscheduled stops. No matter how great your product demo is, what’s the point if nobody’s around to see it? And how do you make yours stand out?
What to Do About It: If you think of a trade show as an extension of your organization’s overall marketing, it’s easy to see how to resolve this problem. Good advertising will help ensure people make time to see your demo.
- Craft an email and marketing campaign that generates interest before the show, including details about your demo schedule.
- Promote demos on social media, and be sure to keep people up-to-date with the demo schedule.
Train your staff well – Sales training is important, of course, but so is presentation and professionalism. Choose booth staff with lively, engaging manners, who have genuine enthusiasm for your organization. It always shows!
7. Lay It Out Right
Your demo might be tailored to every audience—with well-trained, engaging staff performing it perfectly—but if your booth layout doesn’t do a good job of drawing people in, all your efforts could be in vain.
What to Do About It: A well-designed booth floor plan will keep traffic flowing and display your products to perfection, but what’s the view like from outside the booth? To get traffic flowing in, think about what people will see as they pass by.
- Create booth displays that are easy to see from outside the booth, and don’t hide all your best graphics in the center! Your most eye-catching content should be easily visible to passers-by.
- Make a point of having engaging content, such as a video or PowerPoint presentation, displayed around the perimeter.
- Make your booth look welcoming from the outside, so visitors feel comfortable walking in. You could arrange seating, so it’s in view of people walking by.
- Set up your demo display area near the perimeter, so it’s easy for people passing by to become a part of the audience.
8. Meet Your Audience Half-Way
Attending trade shows doesn’t always get you the precise results you’re hoping for. Maybe the people you need to reach don’t attend them, or you’re in such a niche industry that attending expos hasn’t worked out well in the past. What if you need another solution instead of or in addition to trade shows?
What to Do About It: A mobile exhibit might be the perfect option. Mobile exhibits are built into a customized vehicle; for instance, in an RV or expandable trailer. With a mobile exhibit, you can take your message directly to the people who need to hear it, wherever they might be. You can tour your county or state, or go even further afield and hold product demos at selected locations. You can perform full product demonstrations on the road, in a private branded room, for one person at a time, or a whole group. Your mobile exhibit can be fully customized to give you exactly the setup you need, making it a cinch to hold demonstrations absolutely anywhere.
A Great Product Demo Pays for Itself
Crafting a great demo for each show you attend does take some time. But it’s worth it! The time and effort you put into preparing and putting on an in-depth product demonstration will pay for itself in more leads and better brand visibility.