The trade show industry has grown and evolved from its early days, when exhibitors simply showed up and presented their wares or services. Today’s industry requires extensive planning and marketing steps long before the trade show doors open. Businesses who want to make the most of the trade show experience and gain the most sales and leads must properly prepare.
Why Should I Prepare Before A Trade Show?
Businesses grow with the continued addition of new customers, new ideas and new services, and trade shows provide an extraordinary opportunity to meet potential new customers, expand on potential leads, and properly display new and exciting offerings of a company. The Center for Exhibition Research found that 70 percent of trade show attendees plan to buy one or more products, and 26 percent actually sign purchase orders. Even more telling, 72 percent of attendees say that the trade show itself heavily influenced their decisions to buy. Trade shows are an important piece of the marketing puzzle for your business, a necessary step in finding the buyers and closing the sales.
Trade shows provide the following benefits to businesses:
• Irreplaceable exposure
• Expanded reach
• Lessened advertising costs, in some cases
Pre-Trade Show Prep
It’s critical to take the most steps possible before the events to maximize trade show efforts. Some mainstays of trade show preparation include:
1. Have a goal: A well-researched goal provides a yardstick for success and may help you make decisions. Some useful goals for the trade show may include:
- a. Make a sale on the tradeshow floor
- b. Gain at least 20 new prospective customers
- c. Talk with a couple of industry leaders
- d. Find 10 solid recruiting prospects
- e. Find three serious investors
- f. Ask potential customers three specific marketing questions.
2. Pick your booth: Location matters. Try to choose booths near the bathrooms or near the front doors. Corner booths are gold.
3. Streamline your main message: You need three seconds to convince someone to come pursue your booth. Ensure that wandering eyes will lead to your area by designing attractive banners, flyers and other materials. Free merchandise is always a hot item for potential customers.
4. Plan on bringing at least three people: You need at least two people at the booth for busy times, and another going to meetings and relieving others for breaks.
5. Finish all travel arrangements: Fares are cheaper well ahead of time, and there’s (usually) no last-minute surprises.
6. Have a box of everything:
- a. Pens of different colors
- b. Scotch tape
- c. Sharpies
- d. Masking tape
- e. Extension cords
- f. Electric plug bar
- g. Post-it notes
- h. Rubber bands
- i. Tiny stapler
- j. Highlighter
- k. Paper clips
- l. Scissors
- m. All-in-one-tool (screwdriver, can opener)
- n. Zip-ties
- o. Business cards
7. Share it socially: Your attendance at the trade show can be promoted through social media outlets, usually at no cost. Spread the news of your attendance (and featured products) on Facebook and Twitter, or even consider setting up a Pinterest or Instagram account for full-color images of your exhibit offerings. Use the weeks leading up to the event to heavily promote your attendance with daily posts to build excitement.
8. Connect with other exhibitors: Using LinkedIn and Facebook, RSVP to the trade show event and connect with others in the group or on the guest list. Share ideas for the trade show and also use the opportunity to make potential business connections for future sales.
9. Update the website: Make sure your business website contains all information about your trade show attendance, including the hours and location, and even offer a coupon to be used for orders placed at the trade show.
10. E-mail your excitement: Build excitement and place focus on trade show attendance with a strategic email campaign in the weeks leading up the event.
11. Send a press release: Putting a press release into the right media’s hands can send exposure all over the web.
12. Change your voicemail: Include a brief message about your attendance at the trade show on your company’s voicemail can alert callers to the fact. Include relevant information or a website address visitors can go to for more information.
13. Share new products: Build hype for trade show attendance by announcing the unveiling of new products, with trade show attendees able to have the first look and chance to order. Share this news socially or through email send-outs.
14. Create a contest: Reward those who follow your blog or social media sites with a contest, a chance to win free services or products from your business, encouraging them to share with others. Consider designing an “invitation” to the trade show, and reward the person who can share it the most with a nice discount on your products.
1. Be creative: Creativity doesn’t have to cost a great deal; some of the greatest trade show marketing ideas have been relatively inexpensive. Find a way to make attendees want to visit your booth, be it with humorous advertising, promise of free wares or the guarantee of discounted services for trade show attendees.
2. Be prepared: Not just with a well-designed and visually striking exhibit, but prepare fully with your presentation. Practice your ‘elevator speech’ so that when the time come, the lead or the sale is easy to capture. Consider making ‘business theater’ a part of your exhibit, inviting attendees to learn more about your business while also being able to reach a large number of people at a time.
3. Be confident: People are drawn to confidence, so let it permeate your personality and ultimately, your team. The way to rein in prospective customers is to persuade them of your ability to effectively do you job, and radiating confidence communicates that.
Make the most of your trade show experience by taking advantage of every opportunity available, weeks and months before the event ever happens. Then, when the time comes, the trade show will bring in the most leads and ultimately the most sales.
For making the most of your booth setup, make sure it includes a colorful and creative trade show display by Northwest Creative Imaging. With a mission to provide a wide range of products and services on every budget, Northwest Creative Imaging is your ticket to trade show success.