Trade shows are useful for a number of reasons. They help you network with other businesses in your industry, which allows you to both evaluate potential relationships and business partners and do a bit of research on your competitors. Trade shows also enable you to reach a select group of interested potential clients and customers who attend these types of shows, so in this sense they are useful for sales and marketing purposes. And, finally, they allow you to hone your brand message and concisely convey this to anyone who approaches your booth, especially media.
But, let’s face it. Even with all of the advantages that your company can potentially reap from attending a trade show, there is still a lot of work and effort that needs to go in to the whole operation in order to ensure success. So, how do you get the most out of your trade show booth? Well, there are three primary areas where you should focus: networking and market research, conveying your brand message / public relations, and sales.
Once you have acquired a high-quality trade show booth that is well-designed, eye-catching and engaging, the rest is essentially up to your marketing materials and your staff. If you are going to effectively network with other businesses in your industry at the show, you will need to have at least one person designated as the rover/floater/scout who will roam around visiting other booths at the trade show and striking up conversations to identify potential partners, sales leads and close competitors. This can be one individual, a rotating position or a small team, depending on the number of staff you have available at the trade show and the size of the trade show booth itself.
Of course, you will also want to leave your own trade show booth well-staffed with interesting, engaging and sociable individuals who are very familiar with your company, your products and your brand message. You should have promotional and marketing materials available to give to interested attendees, but your staff should be familiar enough with your business to that they don’t need to consult them in order to give a good presentation of your company or answer any potential questions. Doing so is a great way to show attendees that you aren’t prepared for the trade show. Make sure your brand message is simple and easy to understand. It should fit seamlessly into your product line and embody your company’s identity.
As far as lead generation and sales are concerned, it is essential to have a good sales rep or two staffing your trade show booth, as well as roaming around to identify potential leads. These individuals must be meticulously organized and should record any potential leads in a categorized sheet or database. You should also make sure to set a schedule and timeline for following up on these leads and a strategy for successfully converting them to sales, which is the job of any good sales team.
Doing these things well can mean that your time and effort spent preparing for a trade show and put into creating your trade show display will not be wasted, and you can expect to get much more out of the entire experience than you put in.