If your company has made the decision to exhibit at a trade show, good for you! Before you start, here are some vital tips for your first trade show. This is an excellent opportunity that allows you to market your brand to a highly targeted audience. While there is competition from other exhibitors, it’s less than what you have online. By creating a high-quality booth, hiring knowledgeable staff, and featuring the right promotions, you should have no trouble making your brand stand out.
When attending your first few trade shows, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Some exhibitors think that all they have to do is show up and the people will come. However, trade shows are a lot of work and they only pay off if you’re prepared to get your hands dirty. Below are five things to know before attending your first trade show.
Success Doesn’t Just Mean Showing Up
Just because you spend thousands of dollars on an exhibit doesn’t mean that success will roll your way. The booth only puts you in front of a targeted audience. Your display needs to first attract the right people. Once you have an audience, you can’t just smile and be cute. An important aspect of trade show is engagement and the opportunity to establish relationships, either with potential customers or business partners. You must be proactive in communicating with attendees, answering questions, introducing them to your business and so forth.
Hire Your Staff Carefully
Hiring the right people and training them properly is mandatory so they can answer questions and nurture prospects through the funnel. Trade shows actually require a lot of labor. There is the setup and take-down, dealing with vendors, and standing on your feet for three days straight. Pick employees who are up for this physical challenge. There’s also a lot of small talk and smiles, so choose people who are friendly and people oriented. If someone looks bored or has their arms crossed the whole time, visitors won’t want to approach them.
Plan Accordingly or You’ll Blow Your Budget
Trade show costs can add up quickly. The best recommendation is to start planning early. This will allow you more time to compare expenses, adjust priorities and take advantage of early bird specials. When you’re in a time crunch, you have no choice but to pay rush fees and late charges. The more shows you attend, the more you will know what’s worth spending money on and what you can skip.
Have Clear Objectives
What do you hope to gain by attending a trade show? Be clear about your goals so that you can focus on them during your event. You should also have a way to track your progress, such as via lead tracking software or an app. Common trade show objectives include:
- New product launch
- Generate leads
- Retain current customers
- Build brand awareness
- Enter a new market
- Recruit new employees
Give Attention to all Your Exhibit Days
Some trade shows only last a day, but many last several. If you’ll be at the event for an extended time, be prepared to give the last day the same amount of attention as the first day. Usually, staff is energized and motivated on the first day of a trade show, but this quickly drops off. It’s understandable, considering people get tired of being on their feet and making small talk. However, some of the best connections are made on the last day of a trade show. People tend to be more relaxed after the initial ‘first impressions’ are made. The most important reason to avoid slacking in your exhibit presence, however, is that you and your booth represents your company. This should never be neglected.
As you attend more trade shows, you’ll get more comfortable with the routine and what needs to be done to stay on track with your goals. In the meantime, focus on proper planning and budgeting, training the right employees and dividing your resources among all days.