Trade shows are simply great – they let you create brand awareness, give you the perfect opportunity to showcase your products in front of your target audience, and provide you with a highly coveted platform, one that you are always on the lookout for, to meet existing and potential clients – phew! Enticing enough to reserve your space right away and sign on the dotted line, right? Is that what you did the last time – when someone just mentioned a trade show and you jumped on the bandwagon with little or no preparation? How did that turn out? Not good? Well, let bygones be bygones. Pull your socks up for the next one.
Nail down your motive: Why are you participating in the show in the first place? Are you looking for a launch pad for new products or concepts? Or are you rather interested in nurturing relationships? Or probably both? You can only prep up for the show when you have a clear answer. And when you do, reach out to your audience, find out if they are attending, and more importantly, make sure that the show is in sync with their requirements.
Know what you want to say: Blabbering is a big no-no. Once you have determined the goal of attending the show, decide on your strategy and message, or else you’d have a hard time achieving the goal. The message, of course, needs to be relevant to your goal.
a) What products would you be selling at the show?
b) Would you be highlighting some specific services or will you focus on all of them?
c) How is this projecting your brand? In what light?
Focus on space and design: Do you need a relatively large booth or a standard one would suffice? Figure that out. Space does matter, but if affordability is an issue, don’t fret; go for a smaller one, and invest in booth design – the idea is to establish meaningful connections and lay the groundwork for conversion. If your booth is delivering a clear, concise and memorable message, there’s no stopping you – make sure your designer does a good job – the passersby should get to know what your company is all about and want to come on over.
Choose the right location: While some exhibitors don’t like being placed next to show-stopping booths, because of obvious reason(s) – a distraction for potential customers, too much noise, undue comparison etc. – others categorically look for such spaces. They plan on cash in on the footfall that the flashier booths attract. Take your pick – whatever works for you.
Don’t take things for granted: First things first; don’t expect people to line up at your booth if you haven’t let them know that you’d be exhibiting at the show. Work on your pre-marketing tactics – emails, social media and your sales reps can spread the word without any difficulty. Secondly`, make sure that you and your staff are on the same page. If they have no clue what your goal is or what all offers you are floating exclusively for the show, they’ll be caught unaware, causing embarrassment to you and your company. They must also know how to man the booth, and create an inviting atmosphere – conduct a training session if required. Thirdly, generate curiosity through social media. People love to share, no doubt, but you need to give them something first – share pictures, give tips, answer their questions and do anything and everything to forge a connection. Last, but not the least, follow up, like always. If you succeed in building a relationship with the visitors during the show, nurturing it post the show is your responsibility – as simple as that!
And yes, follow a timeline – plan your budget 6-12 months before the show, and come up printed marketing materials at least 3 months in advance – just do things as and when they should be done!