10 Tips for a Successful Tradeshow

Tradeshows are still a cornerstone for a lot of industries in terms of marketing and as part of the sales cycle. They can be a great way to get more publicity, increase quality leads, and help build or reinforce relationships with clients as well as other businesses. If you’re not prepared for it though, a tradeshow can wind up being a very expensive waste of time and money. Here are ten tips to make sure your next tradeshow visit is a resounding success.

Tip #1 – Define your Goals

What is the reason that you’re attending the trades show? Is it to generate leads or make sales? Build relationships with other businesses or customers? Recruit talent? Most likely, you’d like to do all of the above, but to make sure your exhibit is a success, focus on one or two goals and build your strategy around maximizing those goals will improve the chance that you’ll reach them.

Tip#2 – Quality, over Quantity

Would you rather have 10,000 people walk by your booth and barely notice you, or, have 50 people walk up to your booth and have them walk away as potential leads or bonafide sales? You’d probably want the latter, I know I would. To get that, it begins way before the trade show even starts. Announce that you’re going to be at the trade show via e-mail blasts or through other marketing efforts. Make a social media event, or attach yourself to the events social media page (we have plenty of other social media tips that can help with this). Figure out who your targets are for the show, and make sure they know about your exhibit. That way, you get the foot traffic you want.

Tip#3 – Nothing is better than New

Showing a new product to potential and current customers is an easy way to make a splash at a trade show. Unfortunately, trade shows aren’t designed around product schedules. The best way to showcase that you’ll be showing off a product at a trade show is by building hype for it via multiple channels. Or if you only have a prototype, you can showcase it digitally via a 3D model.

Tip#4 – Create Multiple Channels for Leads

While this might sound complicated, it’s actually really simple. All you really need to gather is their name and email address. The less info you have to gather the better, no one wants to fill out a 10 line form at a trade show. You can do this even if you’re running a contest. You might be collecting business cards in a fishbowl for a contest, but make the really strong leads feel special. Have them fill out their name and email even if they put their business card in the bowl, this way they have their own segment in the email list, because, these are often the leads you want to nurture most.

Tip #5 – Bring Swag People Want

We’ve all been there, carrying around the million and a half tiny things that booths give you, the pens, the pins, the stress balls. They’re tried and true, but also tired and overused. Handing out something practical (i.e. tote bags, USB sticks, notebooks) or fun (bottle openers, drink cozies, t-shirts) will get you noticed a lot more, and help you generate more leads.

Tip #6 – Keep your Booth Table Clean

Don’t cover your booth table in literature and white papers and charts. Pick one or two key pieces of literature that get your company message across and why you’re there. Keep the other materials on hand if someone asks you a detailed question, but, also gather their email address so that you can send the details straight to their inbox, so your not lost with the rest of the literature they’re carrying from other booths.

Tip #7 – Let them Play

What we mean is that people are going to want to touch things. So let them, people want to interact with things, not just be guided. Make sure your exhibit is engaging and exciting and trust me, they won’t forget you.

Tip #8 – Make Sure Your Staff is Trained

Make sure the staff you’re bringing to your trade show is trained, because you might have an extravagant booth, but, if your staff is poorly trained and prepped for the show, that’s all your prospects will remember. Make sure your staff knows what’s expected of them, and don’t be afraid to do a refresher on goals and etiquette before a show.

Tip #9 – Spy vs. Spy

Trade shows are the perfect environment for your competitors to spy on you. You and them are in close quarters for a couple of days, showcasing your newest and best features of what you’re offering. Make sure you size up your competition, but be wary, because they’re probably trying to size you up too. Make sure your staff knows a plant when they see one. Most trade show vets say they’re the one’s trying to be too clever. Usually by asking too specific of a question that the average joe wouldn’t ask.

Tip #10 – Marathon not a Sprint

Finally, trade shows are marathons not sprints. The real work usually happens at the end when the day is dwindling down. The people who are really serious are walking around at the end when there are less crowds because they know that you’re not being bombarded by people. Making sure you stay energized and focused through the whole trade show will help show potential customers that you came to do business and will commit wholeheartedly to get their business.

Garth Gaetz is the owner of New World Case, Inc. Connect with him on Google+.

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