So, It’s time to get out your company merchandise and man your stand at the next business trade show, but have you ever asked yourself what makes a successful trade show event for your business and is it really worth the money you pay to exhibit?
If done right, Tradeshows are not only an excellent opportunity to network but allow you to showcase your business, generate new leads and give you better brand awareness.
After several years of attending and exhibiting at trade shows here are my top ten tips to getting the most out of your Trade stand.
1. Do your research & book early
The first thing you need to do when looking for a trade show is to ensure that the event is specific to your business offering, location and that the visitors in attendance are relevant.
If possible visit the show as an attendee the year before and speak to past exhibitors and organisers about visitor demographics, this is also the opportunity to scope out the best stand location which sees the best visitor footfall. By booking early not only are you likely to save money by receiving early bird discounts but you will also get the pick of the bunch when selecting your stand location.
2. Create a plan & set measurable objectives
So, you’ve done your research and you’re happy that the trade show you have found ticks all of the right boxes in terms of your target audience and location. It’s now time to create a clear plan for the day and write down exactly what you wish to achieve whilst exhibiting. This could be anything from making new contacts to generating a number of qualified sales leads. By pre-planning you can ensure that your time is spent speaking to the right people in order to achieve your set goals.
3. Advertise in advance
This is your opportunity to shout about your stand. Put the word out that you will be exhibiting and invite your clients, suppliers and contacts. Be sure to research event hashtags and social media handles, by ensuring any of your social media posts include these, you’re more likely to increase your audience and post interactions. Don’t forget to let people know where your stand is and how to find you!
4. Stand out from the crowd
Make sure your stand is smart, attractive and is a clear representation of your company. More is not always better and you can quite frequently put off people visiting your stand, by displaying literature in mass or being heavily cluttered with various products. Only bring relevant literature and use the saved stand space for bright coloured and engaging tools that attract visitors and quickly tell them what your offer actually is.
5. Data Capture
Everyone loves to win something! By running competitions, special show offers and contests you’re more likely to attract people to your stand and with that create the perfect opportunity to capture their information on entry. Get your stand visitors to place their business cards in a bowl or ask them to fill out a contact form in order for them to enter your competition.
6. Talk to people & Network
People buy from people so take every opportunity to speak to as many people as possible to spread the work and make new contacts, whilst they may not want to buy your product or services they might know someone who does. If and when the exhibition goes through quiet moments take the opportunity to speak to neighbouring exhibitors they may be just as interested in what you have to offer as the show attendees.
7. On the day Marketing
Keep your followers updated on the day’s events, it’s never too late to attract people to the show and quite often you will meet attendees who may have been very much undecided on attendance until they have seen multiple posts on social media. Take lots of pictures but ensure you aren’t on your mobile at your stand it can be seen as very unprofessional.
8. Follow up
Follow up after the event with ALL the people you met at the show. A simple ‘It was lovely to meet you’ email goes a long way and will ensure that you and your company are remembered. Every person you spoke to could be your next customer so this is your opportunity to build and maintain relationships with other businesses and clients who might not quite be ready to use your services.
9. Don’t let the lead go cold!
Hot leads go cold very quickly. The sooner you follow up with your potential clients the more likely it is that your business will stand out from the rest. Rather than sending out an email set yourself some time aside to call each of your hot leads. It’s much more personal and you’re more likely to engage.
10. Summarise and assess
So that’s it, you have planned, exhibited and followed up but was it successful? Carrying out an evaluation of the event is one of the most important things you can do. This will allow you to see whether the event enabled you to meet your objectives, whether the benefit outweighed the cost and more importantly is it a show that is worthwhile exhibiting at again.