From technology to heavy industry, San Diego hosts a wide range of trade shows, conventions and industry events every year.
If you’re a business owner or part of a growing business’s marketing and sales team, exhibiting at a trade show can be a great way to generate new leads, strengthen your brand and network with new people.
However, like any other marketing channel, it’s important to approach your first trade show with the right strategy. From your exhibit to your sales pitch, getting the key factors right before your show can play a huge role in your results and return on investment.
Below, we’ve listed six “must do” tasks that belong on your to-do list for your first trade show exhibit in San Diego. Before you get started preparing your exhibit, go through the list and check off each item to make sure you’re 100% prepared and ready to rock the event.
Work with an expert to design eye-catching displays
One of the most common first-time exhibitor mistakes is designing your trade show displays on your own.
Trade show display design requires a specific skill set and level of experience. This means that no matter how talented your in-house design team might be, there’s a risk that their design style might not translate well into a crowded, busy trade show environment.
To avoid designing displays that don’t make an impact, work with an experienced exhibit design company from the beginning. Not only will they be able to design eye-catching displays — they’ll also be able to provide actionable tips, pointers, and recommendations to help you succeed.
Set aside twice as much preparation time as you need
Preparing for a trade show can be an exhausting experience, especially if it’s your first time as an exhibitor. As such, it’s important to set aside plenty of time for your business to book its floor space, prepare its exhibit and complete other important tasks.
As a general rule, it’s best to set aside twice as much preparation time as you think you’ll need for your first trade show. It’s also best to start preparing for the event as early as possible, from booking your floor space to practicing your 30 to 60-second sales pitch.
Set measurable objectives before the event
Another common first-time exhibitor mistake is attending a trade show without clear, measurable goals. Many businesses attend trade shows “for the exposure” or “to grow the business” with no clear way of measuring whether or not this objective can be achieved.
Before you start planning and budgeting for your first trade show, set several measurable goals for your team. Good goals include specific lead generation or revenue targets, or a specific level of media coverage as a result of your appearance.
In short, make sure your goals are quantifiable. If you can measure your progress and monitor how close you are to achieving your objectives, it becomes far easier to gauge whether or not your first trade show was a success.
Based outside San Diego? Consider staying near the event
If you’re located outside of San Diego, one of the most important things you can do before your first trade show is book accommodation near the event location.
If you’re attending an event held at a hotel, consider booking in the hotel itself for optimal convenience. This not only gives you and your team a place to stay — it also gives you a quiet, private space to discuss potential deals with new prospects and existing customers.
If you’re attending an event at a convention center or other non-hotel location, aim to book your accommodation as close to the event location as possible. This not only cuts down on taxi fares and other transportation costs — it also makes the logistical side of your visit far simpler.
Keep useful, detailed notes on every lead you generate
Trade shows can be fantastic opportunities to meet new people and generate sales leads for your business. However, many businesses let these new contacts go to waste by forgetting to take detailed notes on the people they interact with during the event.
Once it’s time to follow up and close the deal, having notes makes the process far easier and more likely to be successful.
From a prospect’s needs and interests to the specific products they’re interested in, jot down notes on business cards, brochures and other loose pieces of paper during the event so that you’ve got all the details you need to close the deal with ease once the event is over.
Have a follow-up plan ready before the event begins
Finally, it’s important to have your post-event sales and marketing plan ready before you even think about attending.
After the event is over, you’ll need to kick your sales efforts into gear in order to turn the leads you generated during the tradeshow rentals into real sales and revenue. By planning ahead, you can be one step ahead of your competitors, giving you a higher chance of successful results.
From follow-up scripts to special offers, start preparing your follow-up plan before you attend the trade show and you’ll be ready to get calling, emailing and setting up appointments the moment you return to the office.
Get record ROI from your next San Diego trade show
Interested in getting great results from your next trade show? We specialize in every aspect of trade show marketing, from exhibit design to transportation, assembly and more. To learn more about how we can help your business, contact us now to speak to a member of our team.