When you think of trade shows, you probably envision rows of custom-designed booths, countless sales pitches from exhibitors, and enough promotional stress balls to fill the plane on your flight home. But what you should imagine are leads for your business. You see, trade shows are an excellent way to market your business, create more awareness of your brand, and meet prospects who will end up buying the products or services that you sell. The more leads you generate from trade shows, the higher your return on investment. This GSG Capital blog post features six tips to prepare your business for trade show success
1. Think strategic.
If you are planning to exhibit at an industry trade show, you need to put on your strategic hat long before the event takes place. You can’t just show up, set up a great-looking booth, and expect your fishbowl to quickly fill up with business cards. You need to start by making sure it’s the right event for your business goals. Review your trade show options online, and don’t hesitate to contact organizers and ask for media kits and promotional materials. They should be able to provide you with information about the event, as well as floor layouts, exhibit spaces, workshops, and possible networking opportunities. Plus, make sure to ask how many people attended the show in previous years. A show with a large number of attendees can help you find more new customers.
2. Plan your trade show budget.
The amount of money you spend to exhibit at a trade show will vary based on several factors. These include the size of the event, how much exhibit space you need, and how many attendees you will have. Of course, you will also need to include the cost of your actual trade show display. Things like unique flooring and custom booth signage can be expensive to produce… and ship to the event. Your budget should also include the cost to design and print sales sheets and promotional materials that you will give away to prospects. Lastly, don’t forget to include often overlooked expenses such as setup and teardown costs, travel/Per Diem expenses, and miscellaneous show services fees.
3. Create a lead-generating booth.
Trade show attendees who walk the floor will see a large number of booths, each with their own brand messaging. If your booth doesn’t stand out with messaging that resonates with people right away, it’s not going to make an impact. In fact, attendees might just walk by and not stop to see what your business is all about. To prevent this from happening, design your booth with these must-have elements: a strong visual, a compelling headline, your business name, your business logo, and your business website URL. Your headline should be benefit-driven, not generic, and it should be printed in an easy-to-read font that can be seen from several yards away.
4. Finalize your sales pitch.
You might have just 15 seconds to capture the attention of someone who visits your booth. Without a well-prepared and interesting pitch, you might end up losing them. So, meet with your employees who will be attending the show and brainstorm pitch ideas. Come up with a brief intro about your company and what it offers, and include a benefit that will lead to further conversation. When talking to people who might be qualified leads, make sure you get their contact information. You can collect prospects’ business cards, connect with them on LinkedIn, or ask them to provide their information on a tablet or laptop. It is also a good idea to bring order forms and a credit card reader for prospects who are ready to become customers right away. In the event that a prospect is obviously not that interested in your products or services, politely end the conversation and thank them for their time.
5. Walk the floor and mingle.
This will only apply if you have enough people at your booth to talk to prospects. If this is the case, take turns walking the floor to meet with potential vendors, partners, and customers. This also presents you with an opportunity to see what your competitors are promoting at their booths, and to discover new products, services and trends that might benefit your company. Always remember that you are the face of your business, so act professional and be friendly at all times.
6. Follow up with your leads.
Once the show ends and you are back at the office, you still have work to do. And we’re not talking about the multitude of tasks that piled up when you were gone. We’re talking about following up with your trade show leads. Contact all of them via email or phone to see if they are still interested in what your business offers. And if you told any of them that you would be sending more information about your company, or perhaps an estimate, do it right away. The sooner you follow-up, the better chance you have to land new business.