So your company has spent the time, money, and effort on a display booth for a trade show, but that’s the easy part. How do you now make the best of it?
The answer is careful planning and research; these can go a long way towards ensuring a successful performance at your next show and setting the stage for an encore at the next one.
A trade show is a place where buyers and sellers meet. The benefit of such shows is that buyers come to a trade show looking to buy and wanting to learn about the latest and greatest that you have to offer.
The problem is the number of competitors you have in the immediate vicinity. The best way to overcome this is to take steps to ensure that potential clients don’t have a chance of missing your booth.
1.) Location, location, location!
This centuries-old adage is as relevant here as anywhere else. A useful tip to keep in mind is that most trade shows offer prime stand/booth locations at an extra charge – worth it, but be sure to act quickly, as prime show real estate sells out fast. Some prime locations are even grandfathered in so you may even want to think even further in advance; a year ahead is always good practice.
If you plan on attending a trade show long term, year after year, prime location is something you can try and negotiate on your first booking.
2.) Tall, good looking, GSOH…
Think of a trade show as if it were speed dating; the premise is the same. You only have a limited amount of time to attract a potential customer, make a good impression, and tell them anything and everything they’ll ever need to know before they move on to the next exhibitor.
Buyers are attracted to good looking exhibit stands; but that doesn’t have to cost you the earth. If your branding allows, use bright colours and put effort into the design of your stand. Additionally, make your messaging clear and visible from every direction as well as near and far. Use optimum lighting and clear, concise signage.
Having ‘the look’ is all very well and good, but you also need to be approachable. An open, smiling face of your exhibitor is crucial. Have a variety of display options that appeal to different types of people; many attendees still appreciate a leaflet or flyer to take away with them, others are purely about the visual and prefer a video demo or an app on an HD screen or tablet.
All attendees share one common feature: they want to engage with your staff and ask lots of questions, so make sure there are enough of you available at all times.
3.) Be Social-savvy
A social media presence is now pretty much unavoidable in this day and age. No matter what the size of your business, if you don’t already have one, a social media marketing plan should always be in place for your trade show. Depending on what platform works best for your client base, all social media sites allow you to engage with prospective clients long before you ever hit the show floor. It also serves as a perfect opportunity to let people know weeks in advance of any special offers or incentives that you may be offering on the day.
Once you arrive at the show, take photos and check yourself in at the venue. Interact and engage with fellow exhibitors’ posts, chat to them on the social platforms; show the world just how approachable and tech-savvy you are. Nobody likes a faceless company.
4.) The way to an attendee’s heart is through their stomach
Another adage here, but an oh-so relevant one. Trade show attendees are usually not used to all that walking around, and if they say they are, don’t believe them and offer them a cup of tea!
Offering drinks and snacks at your stand will be much appreciated. Better still, most trade shows offer sponsorship opportunities to exhibitors at their time of booking. Skyways Media recently sponsored the lunch at this year’s OGR conference with enormous success and appreciation from all who managed to get their hands on a slice of cake! This is a fantastic way of getting your company name out there away from the exhibition stand.
Sponsorship opportunities can range from breakfasts, luncheons, coffee/refreshment breaks, and even wine tasting if your marketing budget allows.
Alternatively, offering branded bottles of water at your stand or even branded boiled sweets will do the trick and make an attendee’s visit to your stand all-the-more memorable.
5.) Be a show off!
If there’s one place that allows you to go that extra mile, it’s a trade show. Offer something of value to everyone that visits your stand. This can be anything from a white paper on the status of the industry, a top 10 list of products, new industry trends, even copies of your recent blogs. Further to this, if you know a particular show attracts attendees from out of town, there is no harm in offering information on the local area; recommended restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions.
Carrying off a trade show successfully involves a great deal of planning and should never be ad-libbed. Shows are often a financial risk due to the short term, one-shot nature of them, it is imperative you research enough to ensure your own success.
The points we have highlighted here all require their own planning. If you plan on attending show regularly, this will become a routine, and even if you have a routine, make sure you consistently innovate and keep up to date with industry trends.
Most importantly, have fun!
Want to see how it’s done?
Skyways Media will be exhibiting at the following shows.
CFDA Annual Convention, Monterey CA 11-13 June
FCCFA Annual Convention & Trade Show Miami FL 22-24 June
NYSFDA Annual Convention Saratoga Springs NY 20-23 August
NJSFDA Convention & Expo, Atlantic City NJ 26-28 September
NFDA International Convention & Expo, Boston MA 29 Oct-1 Nov
To find out about Skyways Media’s unique products for the funeral industry, visit www.skyways-media.com.