Thinking about being an exhibitor at a trade show in order to promote your company and its offerings? There are some important things you may need to consider:
- Preparing your budget. Before signing up to be an exhibitor, consider the pricing and quality of your trade show booth within your budget. Sometimes it can be expensive to be an exhibitor in a popular trade show, and spaces can be competitive. If the show could be a strong lead generation opportunity for your organization, consider partnering with a complimentary business to yours to share in costs and booth space. There can be strength in numbers; depending on who you partner with, it can provide further legitimacy to your business.
- Review the Exhibitor Manual. This manual is normally provided on the trade show’s website or sent after registering your booth. It covers the ins and outs of the show from an exhibitor point of view. It includes key points of reference such as: booth sizes/locations, rules and regulations, load in/out times, key deadlines, and more.
- Spread the word! Be sure to take advantage of social marketing to signal that your organization is attending a trade show; in today’s age, it’s never been easier! Notify your followers on social media, write about it in a newsletter, and/or email your contacts. Tip: When promoting on social media, see if the trade show has a hashtag (#) tied to it, and use it when you post on social. This can cast a wider net to informing attendees that your organization is attending.
- Differentiate your booth. How many times have you seen an uninspiring booth, and just walked on past without attempting to engage? Be honest. Making sure your booth stands out doesn’t have to be overly difficult or expensive. Think outside of the box on how to illustrate your offerings and what your company is all about. Think about having an interactive and engaging demonstration of your product or service.
- Organize your booth. If you are looking at both informing and selling at your booth, consider organizing two separate spaces for each. Unpacking all of your products and materials may signal to attendees that you are solely a merchant and they may shy away as a result as they are unsure if they would like to purchase. Organize an interactive or demonstration zone, and have products available at a separate area of your booth where visitors can choose to go if they would like to purchase. Tip: If you are selling, be sure to have a few payment methods available so it is easy for visitors to purchase (i.e. have enough change to break bills, set up a payment square beforehand so you can accept credit/debit, etc).
- Learn to speed date. Do you have an hour to fully explain and pitch your product/service to all trade show attendees? No-one does, nor should. Prepare and practice your concise elevator sales pitch, with a clear call to action. Be sure to emphasize your value proposition; how you are different and what value you offer that exceeds your competition. Inc.com has a great article on preparing your pitch; How to give a flawless elevator pitch.
- Take Notes. There is always something new to learn from attending a trade show as an exhibitor that can help you to better prepare for the next show. What questions were booth attendees asking? What samples ran out quickly, versus what wasn’t even touched? Take pictures of your booth for future reference, and to use in future marketing.
- Follow up with leads. Sometimes visitors aren’t ready to commit to your product or service at first glance, and offering to follow up with them at a later time gives them time to do their own research. Be sure to follow up within the time-frame that you promised. Failure to follow-up could not only lose you a lead, but could have the potential to decrease a customer’s preference for your organization, as they may feel you forgot about them.
Trade shows are a great lead generating tool and networking opportunity! It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand, execute your plans at the trade show, and complete a post-mortem after the show. Whichever way you exhibit at a trade show, it will always be a great learning opportunity!