7 Trade Show Secrets to a Better Event
In lieu of Trade Show Secrets, you can substitute Consumer Show or Conference. The principles are essentially the same.
Often, we get so excited about unearthing enough marketing budget to allow us to exhibit at a show, that we forget these 7 trade show secrets to a successful event.
1. Preparation, preparation, preparation
Never book your stand at a trade show, conference or other event, then fall asleep because you think the job’s done and turn up on the day expecting miracles. Before the event comes along, be sure you’ve invited all those you’d like to meet on the day. That might include current clients, past and lost accounts, colleagues in the industry, journalists, influencers, reviewers, prospects, etc. Allocate specific times to meet. People are less likely to let you down if there’s a slot penciled in for them. However, try not to simply invite these people onto your booth in isolation. Ensure you’ve already put in some PR mileage and relationship building beforehand.
One of my favourite marketing adages is that “nobody gives a damn about your business but yourself”. Slightly crude and exaggerated this may be, but it serves to remind us that we must be communicating with our targets, because they’ve got a load of other stuff going on. 72 hours before the show’s opening, remind your prospects to come by and visit your stand. Do the same again on the day.
3. Show; don’t just tell
There is little worse for a busy buyer*, who has made the decision to spend some of his or her tight schedule on your stand, than to discover you have nothing to offer. Discuss some new product or service concept you’re working on and ask for their opinion. Show them something. Demonstrate, sample, taste, touch. Involve them. Inspire them.
4. Feed and water
Yes, they do want some snacks to eat and some liquid to drink. Not just coffee. And yes, they do want to sit down.
5. Follow up
The amount of what-turns-out-to-be-rubbish-or-forgettable that buyers collect at trade shows is extraordinary. Be the one who follows up. Stand out. Let this slip and you will slip their memory.
6. For yourself
Wear comfortable footwear. Bring with you a square metre of really good quality, thick carpet. Place it under the regular carpet of your stand floor towards the back of your space and retreat there when there are no visitors. This will save you aches and pains in your legs over the duration of the show and keep your energy levels up – one of my favourite trade show secrets! Drink lots of water and no alcohol. Eat plenty. Sleep plenty. Keep very good notes of who you’ve met, including basic physical features so you can picture them in your mind’s eye for the next time you meet. Even better, take their photo. Have a prioritised “to do” list for after the show. Smile.
7. Can’t afford to exhibit?
Many small and micro-enterprises simply don’t have the budget to book a stand at a major national or international trade show. What can be done? Here’s what. Nowadays, flights are cheap with the likes of Ryanair. Fly over and visit the stands of people you’d like to talk to. Visit others for research purposes. But here’s the secret : In this scenario, you are visiting their stand. And they are at the show to sell, not to buy. So do this work early in the day, right at the start of the opening hours. Because this is their dead time, when their prospects haven’t yet arrived at the show, so you’re not infringing on their selling time.
Trade Show Secrets
Exhibiting can be a big drain on any company’s marketing budget. Be sure to put in the ground work beforehand, use these trade show secrets and then follow up leads afterwards. The show is not a stand-alone gig, but rather should form an integral part of an ongoing pro-active marketing programme. Get comfortable with these trade show secrets and see your ROI, as well as your customer relationships, improve.
And remember that you can still gain value from a show, even if you’re not in a position to exhibit.
* For “buyer”, read buyer, specifier, influencer, financial controller, journalist, etc.