Love them or hate them trade shows are an essential part of many businesses. But as we all know they cost a lot in time and money so securing a high ROI is every business’ main priority. To help you to make the most of your future trade shows and exhibitions we have put together this list of our top 10 Tricks of the Trade Show.
It may seem obvious why your business is attending a trade show or exhibition – to get leads. However a vague goal will make it hard to judge how successful the trade show has actually been. If your goal is to meet new prospective customers then ask yourself questions like: What kind of customers do we want to attract? What information do we want to get from them? This will help you to define what a ‘successful’ introduction is. Not only will this help you to judge the value of your attendance at the show but also will give your team a clear understanding of what is expected.
To make the most of any show your visitors need to feel a warm welcome at your stand. It is suggested that you never go to a show alone because you will inevitably need breaks to stay refreshed and every minute your stand is left unattended you are losing prospective business. Even if you are a very small business you could always bring a friend or family member to support you or get in touch with a local college to find out if any students would be interested in some work experience. You will greatly appreciate a helping hand on the day and also the company during quiet spells.
As a rule of thumb it’s best for exhibitors to dress one notch up from the visitors. The way your team appears will have a huge impact on any prospects first impressions of your business. A sense of uniformity should be evident and co-ordinate with the appearance of your stand. Even if your business doesn’t have a uniform it’s best for your team to dress similarly, in co-coordinating colours. However, any regular at trade shows will know that the conditions could be anything: very hot, very cold, you could even experience leaks! Try to dress in layers if possible so you can adjust and stay as comfortable as you can for the duration of the show.
At any show or exhibition it is tempting to show off as much of your product range as possible, but offering too much can create ‘noise’ on your stand and make it appear cluttered. For a professional approach less is always more. Try to pick a theme that covers a few of your strongest lines or focus on one facet of your range. You can always have catalogues or digital displays to hand if a visitor is interested in something different, but a focused approach will leave a much stronger impression in the minds of your prospective customers.
Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors. They will have spent a good few hours (perhaps even days!) walking up and down aisles looking at business after business. You can stand out by having something visitors can interact with: something to taste, touch, smell, watch or hear. Appealing to a variety of senses can inspire your visitors and when they leave at the end it will be what they remember. However, with that said make sure your offerings are in line with your business and stand theme – it’s got to make sense!
Similarly to the previous point, visitors will never remember the names of all the businesses they met so make sure you’ve given them something to take away. In its simplest form this could be a business card or flyer. But if you’ve got a bit more budget it might be worth investing in some branded materials such as: pens, calendars, USBs, mugs. Again, try to choose a product that aligns with your business and also could be useful to your ideal prospect.
One of the biggest fears of any trade show exhibitor is not having enough worthwhile visitors. You can encourage people to visit by promoting something special that is happening at your stand. This could be a launch of a new product, a promotion or offer that is limited to the event or even a competition that visitors to your show can enter by leaving a business card. Make sure you promote your reason to visit well in advance of the event for maximum impact – think social media, e-shots and mention it on your website.
After a long day of walking around a trade show any visitor will be thankful for a free drink or snack. A promotional refreshment will also break the ice as most people will be more than happy to chat after receiving a small refreshment. Whether it’s a bottle of water or an open tub of chocolates try to get it branded so that even after they’ve walked away you’ve given them something to remember your business by.
Before, during and after the show try to be as active as you can across your social media accounts. This will allow you to engage with other exhibitors and visitors for longer and you’ll get a better feel for the kinds of people who will be at the show. Plus some prospects, if they can’t attend, may be keeping an eye on the social media behind the event so ensure your business’ digital presence is covered!
The real work behind a trade show begins once the event has ended. It can be tempting to go home, put your feet up and recover however time is of the essence! Your prospects will have met and talked to your competitors and although there are other aspects to winning a new lead, speed will definitely give you an advantage. If someone has requested some more information, get it to them as soon as possible. You should aim to speak to every person that you spoke to at the event, whether it’s via email or the phone, and book that essential follow-up meeting!