Technology may have made the world a smaller place, but there is still no substitute for meeting your customers face-to-face. For this reason, trade shows remain big business and it does matter if you are selling to businesses or consumers – you need to incorporate trade shows into your business development bag of tricks.
However, getting the most from trade shows can be tricky for some companies. This is largely because many exhibitors approach trade shows with the wrong goals in mind. For the most successful companies, they realize that trade shows aren’t all about signing orders. Instead, trade shows are about building and strengthening relationships. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you make the most of your trade show experience.
- Make a Splash
Trade shows bring industry insiders to get together; it doesn’t matter if your industry is something sexy like CES or if you are selling plumbing supplies, there are certain shows which are focal points on the calendar.
As such, trade shows bring out industry press and this is your chance to make a splash. Maybe it is releasing a new product or service, or announcing a rock star hire who is going to take your company to new heights. Trade shows are a great opportunity to announce how you are making the world a better place.
Granted, everyone else is busy making the same claim, so you do need to find a way to stand out but this is a great opportunity to get creative and to merge other channels together. For example, taking to social media and integrating that with the ‘event’ that you have planned for the show.
While this takes planning, it can lead to a breakthrough moment which will help your company stand out. As such, you want to look at your trade show planning as if it was a major military operation. This means focusing on logistics, timing, personnel, and most importantly messaging.
- Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sometimes you can pull off audacious spectacle without any planning; but the reality is that Murphy’s Law can, and will, win out most times. As such, you want to make sure that you are set up for success and this means planning, planning, planning.
Now, I am not advocating that everything be scripted – as this will seem robotic. Instead, you need to plan so you know what to do when things go wrong. This is what special operations teams do and your trade show team needs to adopt the same mindset. In doing so they will be able to adjust to surprises in real-time without breaking a sweat.
By the way, one of the best ways to put your best foot forward is to use some sort of freebie or promotional item as part of your show plan. In some cases, this can even mean handing out something which is not tied to your business but maybe it is tool which will help make the lives of attendees better.
Think about it, the last thing you want to get at a trade show is another pen, bag, or toy robot. But what if someone were to give you a free foot massage? Wouldn’t this make your show experience better.
- Keep Calm and Follow Up
Lack of follow-up may well be the single largest lost opportunity for exhibitors. Trade shows can be hectic and in most cases, you just end up with a pile of cards and some random notes and not enough time to follow up.
As such, you need to adjust your data capture plan. First, do it in real time. If your sales team is overwhelmed then bring on interns to shadow the sales team. Their role will be to make sure conversation notes and contact details are followed up. Second, set up automated responses based on FAQs. This will reduce the time needed to follow up with everyone who visits your booth.
- Pick Your Spots
Even though some trade shows are better than others, you might be better suited by not going to the biggest shows all the time. There is a simple reason for this, you want to get the best possible Return on Investment (ROI) of your events and sometimes you end up being a small fish in a very large pond at the biggest shows.
As such, you want to pick your spots by measuring which shows will give you the biggest bang for your buck over time. Doing so will help you to yield more from your time and money at each trade show and it will help you to determine how to best make a splash at each event you do attend.
There you have it, four tips to get the most from your trade shows. Now go out there and start selling.