How to Market Your Business at a Trade Show

How I Market Your Business at a Trade Show, Virtually

Maximize your ROI at conferences
How to Market Your Business at a Trade Show

How to Market Your Business at a Trade Show

One of my Chicago-area clients has had great success attracting new business by attending industry conferences and trade shows. They provide an opportunity to get his company’s services out there in a short time period, thereby enabling him to attract new clients. (He can also check out his competitors, which is a bonus!)

After learning about my client’s business goals, I have performed extensive research into his potential client pool, industry trade shows and conferences, and have compiled a list of potential events for him.  I then check out whether it is financially worthwhile for him to attend as an attendee, speaker, or an exhibitor.

To be as accurate as possible on potential ROI, I delve into previous year’s exhibitor lists – these can be obtained from the conference organizers and can also usually be found online. The conference would normally charge a few hundred dollars for the list around the time of a conference, but a year later, they are happy to pass it on for free. This list contains a lot of valuable information.

I scroll through list, which can be as long as 2,000+ attendees, and I pick out those companies with whom we are already working. These are the companies my client will definitely want to “catch up” with at the conference. I also look for companies with which my client would love to make initial contact.

If there is a lot of potential (meaning if there are a lot of companies we want to meet with), my client then considers taking a small space – even just a table and a chair. Also, my client considers taking a colleague, so while the colleague mans the booth, getting people’s reactions to our service and taking down contact details, my client can do the critical networking, taking on the important initial ‘chat’ and following up with current clients to see if there are any other business needs they may have.

Since my client is confident in his speaking abilities, I contact the conference organizers and pitch him as a speaker, outlining the value he can add to their particular audience and applying formally to get on the roster. Conference speakers get wonderful advertising and can talk to a large audience in one go, getting the company message across to the masses. (But be sure if you go this route that you can speak well, your presentation looks great {get your VA to work on this with you!}, it is interesting, captivating and you have rehearsed it well!!).

Further pre-conference preparation includes prioritizing prospects and pre-arranging networking opportunities through meetings, lunches and coffees. The more meetings I can arrange in advance, the happier my client is, knowing he has secured face to face time with some great potential customers.

During the conference, my client goes on to collect 100+ new contacts, usually in the form of business cards.  He simply lines them up on the desk or coffee table of his hotel room in the evening, and takes pictures of them.  He emails me the pictures and I enter them all into his CRM (which, by the way, I deployed and manage on his behalf). I then follow up with each customer individually, sending over a copy of our company materials and asking to make a short appointment with the contact and my client. This gets the ball rolling ‘while the iron is still hot’ and works very well, as it has led to some wonderful new business opportunities.

By working closely together throughout the year and knowing the ins and outs of my client’s business, current customers and potential customers, I’m able to take a lot of the preparation and follow-up workload off him. This helps him to free his time up for his sales pitches which then ensures that his conference opportunities result in new clients!

IreneSubmission by Irene