Things to consider before participating in aTrade show
- Decide your goals.
What are the goals you’d like to accomplish at a trade show? Is it to meet people, to close some sales, or to simply get names and e-mail addresses on your mailing list? What product or service are you planning to promote? Determining what your goals will help you decide what trade show will give you the most return for your investment.
- Does the trade show meet your specific goals?
Research the trade show to make sure it will be attracting your target audience. Talk with the people who are putting on the trade show and find out if it meets your goals. How many trade shows have they done in the past and how successful were they? If possible, contact people who have participated in the trade show in the past to find out how the show worked, or didn’t work, for them.
- Promote the show to your customers.
Although it is important to make sure the trade show is going to be well publicized, you will get more mileage from the event if you invite your own customers and prospects to attend. A simple mailer to your clients is a great way to get people in the door. Many times the trade show will supply you with mailers or postcards, which helps keep your budget in check. You could also develop an interesting angle to motivate customers to attend, such as a demo or special event at your booth, or the promise of receiving a free gift.
- Seek media exposure.
Tradeshows usually attract numerous media outlets. Work in advance to organize interviews with key industry editors in order to, not only get your name in print, but also develop an ongoing relationship with important media representatives. You can even make it easy for reporters by delivering your story in advance, along with press releases, media kits, customer testimonials, etc. Have those materials on-hand the day of the event and have a staff member prepped for interviews.
- Visit other trade shows.
Observing other trade show participants can give you ideas for your upcoming event. Observe the displays, how the people work their booths and attract people to come visit, the giveaways, etc.
- Prepare your booth display and materials.
Your booth or display table should reflect the quality and professionalism of your products and services. There are many companies that develop trade show booths, so shop around before committing to a price. The booth should be eye-catching – something attendees can see from 15 to 20 feet away. Samples of your work, photographs, testimonial letters, press clippings, etc. can help give your booth credibility. The booth will probably be your biggest expense, but it is also the most important.
Make sure to also have the appropriate sales materials available to distribute to potential customers. In that many trade show attendees make a habit of taking something from each booth, regardless of whether they are actually interested, have a relatively inexpensive piece available for the taking, and a more costly brochure behind the table for serious prospects.
- Prepare your staff.
Prepare in advance what your staff will say when people come by your booth. Your staff should be prepared to give a quick description of what you do, what services you offer, and information on the product or program you’re promoting.Begin with one good qualifying question your staff can ask to see if the person they are speaking with is a prospect. Then, write out a script so that your staff is prepared to answer questions.
- Have some way to capture names, addresses and e-mails.
The easiest way to capture contact information of attendees is by enticing them with a drawing. Set up a give-a-way and allow attendees to drop their business card in a fish bowl, or fill out a sign-up sheet for a free gift.
- Network your company to other exhibitors.
Go out of your way to initiate relationships with other exhibitors. They may need your products and services or be in a position to refer you to others. Also, you might find a new source of customer leads or potential business partners for your company.
- Follow-up with all of your leads.
Remember that making a trade show experience a success doesn’t end when the trade show is finished; a trade show is a source of leads, not clients. Follow up on all of your leads with phone calls, and put the names on your newsletter, direct mail and/or e-mail list.
Benefits of Trade Fairs and Exhibitions
- Tradeshows Create Lasting Impressions If Done Right
The main purpose of trade show events is to showcase a wide variety of options for attendees and business to engage and interact with each other. With a well-designed trade show booth that draws attendees’ attention, a few promotional items, a contest opportunity with giveaways and sales collateral, you have a well-rounded booth experience that leaves an impression with a prospective customer for months. Consider having attendees enter a drawing by submitting a business card or completing an action on social media. These types of promotions serve dual purposes: increasing engagement and capturing potential contact information as well.
- Trade Shows Are Incredible Face-To-Face Marketing Events
When it comes to influencing a decision, nothing can compete with face-to-face interaction. Trade shows provide opportunities to engage with current customers and attendees. It doesn’t matter whether you’re marketing a service or selling your new product, an in-person presentation and short question based conversation afterwards can help you to close the deal quickly versus an email sharing the latest sales promo. This makes pre-show planning key to trade show success. If you’ve got an employee who is a natural at “turning on the charm” or one who is great at relationship selling, should be a no brainer on them being a part of the sales team. The cost to bringing them to your next trade show event could pay for itself within hours of the show starting.
- Tradeshow Lead Generation Potential
When it comes to trade show benefits, this is one of the biggest. Major trade shows have massive followings and attendance. For example, the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014 had over 152,000 attendees on the trade show exhibition floor from more than 150 countries. Each attendee of a trade show is a potential lead waiting to be captured. Having QR codes linked to social media accounts or lead generation pages, asking for contact information during a presentation and getting their business cards are all great ways to get fresh leads in your sales pipeline. Make it clear to them that you’ll be contacting them after the show. Make sure to follow up with the candidates most likely to buy while the event is still fresh in their mind.
- Trade Shows Target Audiences Result In Direct Sales Opportunities
Most conventions and trade shows have a specific market or niche they focus on. By exhibiting at popular trade shows within your industry, the odds are very high that you’ll have exposure to an audience that is likely to have an interest in your product or services and are ready to buy. ALWAYS have something to sell at a trade show. It doesn’t matter if you only bring your latest products or have a wide variety of products to choose, the opportunity to generate sales shouldn’t be lost because you didn’t have something for them to buy. Don’t miss out on that sale!
- Trade Shows Are Cost-Effective Networking and Advertising
Designing a trade show booth, renting space on the trade show floor, traveling to the show and from the show, paying for lodging and meals can seem like a steep price tag for a single marketing event. If you’ve done the pre-show marketing work leading up to the show, the potential that a trade show offers your business can far exceed the investment. Though you might have a larger initial investment to showcase your business at a trade show than other advertising or networking methods, the cost to convert a prospect into a sale is often much lower than other alternatives. With proper research and planning, trade shows are one of the most cost-effective sources of leads and sales possible.
- Trade Shows Level The Marketing Field
One my favorite benefits to trade show marketing is the low cost barrier to get involved. From locally owned small businesses to multinational corporations, everyone has access to the same attendees at a trade show. It’s almost as simple as paying for your exhibit location space, designing your trade show display booth, promoting your business leading up to the tradeshow and interacting with the audience during the show. Even a relatively unknown business can generate large numbers of sales and leads through trade shows. Certainly this is possible via other marketing channels, but few are as easy to execute as trade shows can be.
Trade shows offer big benefits to businesses of any size. By combining exposure to a large number of potential leads with the ability to interact personally, trade shows offer an experience for both the business and attendee that other forms of marketing cannot. Though virtual events and other technologies are slowly gaining popularity, few marketing methods compete with the potential of trade shows.