Shows are an integral part of the marketing strategy for some industries and companies. There are people at the shows that you would have a remarkably difficult time reaching otherwise.

BUT Exhibiting at a show can get expensive, fast. To make it worth your while, you need a battle plan.  Your company spends the money, time, and effort to display a booth at a trade show, it is vital to make the best of it.

1. Have clear goals and measure them

Don’t go to the show merely to make some contacts. Rather, be specific about what you want your results to be. These can be sales leads, closed pieces of business, new partners or re-established relationships with existing customers. Build a working spreadsheet for the show and measure how you do.

2. Entice people to stop at your booth

Think of people visiting your booth as a form of speed dating. This means putting your best foot forward. Here are a few easy things to do to help with that first impression:

  • It’s worth the extra money to get carpeting and padding under it if you can. Visitors feel the difference as soon as they step into your booth, and then hate to move back onto the concrete.
  • Have an attraction that generates interest. This could be demos or interactions with your products, either real-time or online. Hold a raffle with an attractive prize
  • Develop ambassadors, not placeholders. For every employee staffing the booth, take the time to go over what you expect them to cover with visitors. It’s not necessary for staff to memorize a script and repeat it back to you. Rather, have them paraphrase, in their own words the central message you want to communicate. This message should focus on your unique value or benefit to the customer — it should be about the customer’s experience, not your sales pitch. Once the staff internalizes your key message, then they will communicate with authentic enthusiasm.
  • Develop relationships with visitors. Stay on message and avoid sales pitches. Visitors to tradeshows know that the people staffing the booths are there to sell to them. So, they naturally put up their guard as soon as they enter the door of the exhibit hall. Employees staffing the booth should engage the visitor, ask engaging questions, and most importantly, listen. Learning about someone enables conversation and the beginning of a relationship. Selling someone raises barriers and shuts down interaction.

3. Have plenty of giveaways

Such as business cards, brochures, pens, magnets, and anything else that has your company name and/or logo on it. Most people who attend trade shows are expecting to take home some goodies. And, be sure to use display racks for showing your flyers, specials, brochures, and such.

4. Make notes on salient points from the discussion

Make notes any promises or commitments made immediately after a conversation is over. Note any insights or observations that could help with the customer relationship. After a full day of greeting people, conversations will blend. The notes will be valuable

5. Dress the part

People will take you more seriously if you dress appropriately. If the trade show is about sporting equipment and fitness, you don’t need a three-piece suit. For other industries, a sport coat is more appropriate.

6. Snacks and Drinks

Trade show attendees are usually not used to all the walking around. Offering snacks and drinks will be much appreciated. Your drinks or snack offer should be in line with your company culture or theme. Water bottles and any packaging should come with your branding.

7. Follow up.

After the show, reconnect as promised in a timely manner. Once you have someone’s card, you must follow up. All of your efforts will have been for naught if you don’t. I recommend waiting at least a week to do so.

To Sum Up

Carrying off a successful  show involves a great deal of planning. Since shows are often a risk because of the cost involved and the short term, one shot deal nature of them, it is imperative to do enough to ensure their success.

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October 17, 2016 |

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