Even in today’s day of virtual- and cyber-everything, real, live, in-person trade shows still abound. Your presentation space is limited and the competition for booth visitors is fierce. A few smart preparations will allow you to get the most bang out of your advertising and networking buck at these events.
Preliminary research is very important.
Go to a few shows before you plan to take part in one. What makes a display stand out to you? What is different about the booths that have more visitors stopping at them?
Pick your booth staffers carefully.
Just because someone knows every single technical detail about your product or service does not mean he or she would necessarily be the best pick to represent your company under these circumstances. A good idea might be to have one person that knows all the nitty-gritty details and another person with more skeletal knowledge, but a more outgoing personality, willing to approach people and begin a conversation or sales pitch.
It should go without saying that staffers should be dressed well. They should not be scheduled to work so many hours that they become ineffective out of exhaustion. Enthusiasm sells.
Make your booth work for you.
Using the information gathered in your preliminary research, make sure your display stands out. It should be eye-catching from a glance across the hall. Additionally, have a reason for an attendee to stick around. Is it a huge hall, taking hours to go through? If so, you may want your space to contain a few comfortable armchairs. Offer a snack or a cup of coffee, if regulations allow. You’ll need time to make your offer to potential clients or customers. Figure out how to get that time.
Once you have that time, use it to your best advantage. How can you showcase your business in action or give them a small taste of your services? Do you build websites? Have a few computers set up so that users can sample your sites in real time. Nearly any field can be shown somehow by computer, be it by samples or through a PowerPoint presentation running on loop display. If you offer consulting services, be ready to give mini-consultations. Not enough to solve all their problems, but enough to leave their appetites whetted for more.
Continue your relationship with potential clients.
Trade show participants see representatives of tens to hundreds of companies. As much as you need to stand out at the show, you need to stand out afterward, too.
In order for your new contact to find you again, give out free gifts printed with your contact information, as well as a tagline to remind them who you are. Cheaper options for this gift include magnets, pens, bookmarks, notepads, emery boards, tote bags… the possibilities are nearly endless.
Perhaps even more important is the mailing list you will gather at the show. More often than not, this is done on paper, then inputted to a computer. This method not only gives you all that information-transfer work to take care of after the show, but it also leaves a large margin of error. Many people unfortunately have handwriting that is difficult to decipher. In days of old, a mistake in one character would likely still get your letter to where it had to go, but in the age of email, one character off and your connection may be lost forever. Having your contact mailing list registration on a laptop computer or tablet will alleviate both of the aforementioned issues. Additionally, make sure the user interface contains a release to receive emails so that you don’t take a chance on getting in trouble for spamming people.
Give your potential clients a few days to unwind after the show, and then send a very short, perky, was-great-to-meet-you email to your new contact list. Periodically, send another update of exciting things going on in your company. If you are lucky enough to have a virtual assistant, she likely has extensive experience using any of a number of internet-based, mass-mailing newsletter applications. She’ll include graphics and a click-on call to action. When sending through any of these programs, you have an accounting afterward of who opened the email and who unsubscribed.
Additionally, either you or your virtual assistant need to include your social media links, both on any printed material you distribute, on your website and in your newsletters. Each of your clients may wish to connect with you in a different way and having them seeing your posts, be they on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or what-have-you, will help build up a trust in you knowing what you’re doing.
Wishing you much luck and success at your next trade show!
(Outlandish as it sounds, we help our clients strategize, book and organize their trade show appearances – all from thousands of miles away. Here’s a step-by-step of how we do it.)
Submitted by Aviela