All businesses, no matter the size, need promotion in order to be successful. Especially when you’re at the beginning of your journey, you need to reach new customers and gain visibility. If you’ve been on the market for a while you still need to keep working on developing marketing strategies which help you stand out from your competitors and allow you to branch out to other industries. A successful company is one that can adapt to market changes and customer expectations.
Exhibitions and trade shows are a perfect opportunity to meet other business owners from your sector and interact with customers directly. This provides valuable insight. You might be still associating this kind of events with endless rows of booths and overly eager salesmen, but if you haven’t been to one in a while you’ll be surprised to see how they’ve transformed. Most major tradeshows today put on extravagant shows, invite influential speakers, industry leaders and offer top quality entertainment for everyone attending.
If you want to make the most out of your experience at a business exhibition, you’ll need to do a bit of research before and this article is a good start. There are a few key points you need to understand so you can stand out from the competition and make a lasting first impression.
What to Expect from a Trade Show and How to Choose the Right One
Maybe this is the first time you’re attending a trade show and you want to know what to expect.
A trade show is an event where representatives from different industries come to promote their products or services. They usually take place in convention centers from larger cities, last for several days and can be restricted just to industry members or open to the general public.
Companies get a space where they can exhibit products or services and the event managers also arrange for media presence, organize workshops, presentations and networking events.
Trade shows can vary quite a lot and so does the price for attendance. You’ll need to do some research in advance to make sure you get the most for what you spend. First of all, you want to make sure the event is suited to what your business offers. For example, if you sell winter sports equipment, you don’t want to attend a trade show geared towards agricultural products. That wouldn’t make any sense and you wouldn’t be getting the contacts you want.
Then you want to check the kind of coverage this trade show gets, who else will be attending, what happened in the previous years, how much space you can get and what kind of networking opportunities do the organizers offer. By doing this research you also get the chance to book your space early which can result in a substantial discount.
Advertise Your Attendance
Trade shows usually have a team of trained organizers with plenty of experience in marketing in charge of promoting their event. But that’s just it, they promote the entire even, not your booth in particular. So it’s still a good idea to take matters into your own hands and inform all your relevant contacts that you’ll be attending. This means business collaborators, suppliers and your main clients. You can also use social media to promote your attendance by posting previews of the presentation you have planned.
Remember that their marketing team is not familiar with the ins and outs of your business model or your products. You need to establish some clear objectives for yourself and advertise accordingly. It could be that you’re looking to gain customers from a different target audience, you want to expand your portfolio of suppliers or form mutually beneficial business relationships. This could be your chance but you need to have a clear image of what you want.
Once You’re There…
Now we’re getting to the fun part: How to draw attention to your booth once the event has started. You’ll be meeting a lot of new people that form an opinion of you and your company based entirely on this trade show so making a good first impression is vital.
Don’t try to save money on the presentation of your booth because this is the element that pays off the most. Invest in top quality displays which can inform passers-by at a glance of the main features of your product or the services you offer. You want a booth that stands out but don’t overdo it with the flashiness. This will reflect badly on your marketing abilities.
The key word here is “engaging”. The kind of booth that makes people take out their phones and post selfies because they just saw something interesting. This translated to free publicity for you. Most attendees will gravitate towards booths where some sort of demonstration takes place. If they feel involved in the demonstration they’re more likely to remember you and the products. You can use screens and play a video which explains how your product works but it’s even better if they can interact with it.
Another effective strategy is to have someone else from your company assist you in making presentations because the interaction between you too will naturally be more compelling than just one person talking in front of a crowd. You’ll also have the additional advantage that you can roam around the trade show and meet the other representatives which gives you a chance to see their marketing strategies and learn from them, as well as gather business contacts.
After presentations, when you have a chance to talk to potential customers directly and answer their questions, be friendly and attentive but don’t be overly enthusiastic as this can be interpreted as pushy. They’ll feel like you’re trying to pressure them into a sale and become distrustful.
Strike up conversation aimed at answering their questions and offering clarifications when needed. A nice trick you can emply is to keep a portfolio handy that you use to illustrate your explanations. Since you’ll both be looking at it, you’ll have to stand closer and this closeness will make it more likely for them to perceive you as someone trustworthy.