KNOWLEDGE

Tips for a superb trade show experience

Category: Trends

Trade shows present a great opportunity to skyrocket your company’s brand—or make a not-so-great impression. Knowledge and passion for your product and a clear understanding of your audience’s needs play a big role. However, other factors can also impact the success of your exhibit. Here are eight ways to help you be your best, boost your company’s visibility and attract new customers on the floor.

For you…

1) While trade shows can be fun and exciting, they can also be grueling. Try to get in some early morning cardio or weight training to get your blood flowing, improve your mood, and keep your energy level high throughout the day. If all else fails, get a knowledgeable associate to staff your exhibit while you sneak out for a quick walk in the fresh air.
2) Pack healthy foods. Avoid sugary snacks and soft drinks, which can spike your blood sugar and cause you to feel sluggish and lethargic later. Winning choices include turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, fresh fruits, salads, and mixed nuts. Also, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
3) Meet other exhibitors and attendees. You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to grow your professional network. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others. Treat the event like a meet and greet. Share your passion, and learn about theirs. Find out what you have in common and go from there. Pay attention to your body language and present yourself in an open, friendly manner.

For your company…

4) Scope out your options. Not all trade shows are created equal. Some might cater to a specific demographic, while others may attract dozens of competitors, increasing the chances that your exhibit might get lost in the shuffle. Ask show management who their target audience is and what types of businesses usually attend. Find out where your exhibit is relative to the others. Is it the first thing visitors see when they enter? Is it nestled in the middle? Or in the back corner? How will the lighting impact your exhibit? Take these factors into consideration and adjust your exhibit accordingly.
5) Spread the word ahead of time. Trade shows are an excellent venue to create buzz for your product, but don’t forget to create buzz for your exhibit itself. Message your business partners, customers, suppliers, distributors, and others in your network. Put the word out on your website and on your social media profiles and blogs. Talk to the company or association hosting the show and purchase an attendee list. This can give you an idea of the types of businesses you’ll see and help you prepare in advance. And the opportunity to send a personalized invitation.

For your visitors…

6) Cater your exhibit to your audience. Think about the demographics of your target audience and structure your exhibit accordingly. Who is your product designed to help? Busy moms? Small business owners? Executives of multinational corporations? If you market to multiple audiences, be sure to identify the needs of each group and demonstrate how your product meets them.

7) Prepare promotional materials. Brochures, catalogs, and other marketing materials help engage your audience and remind them of you after the show. Business cards provide them with an easy way to contact you. Coupons and discount vouchers create an incentive to purchase. Make sure all materials you handout provide some form of value to your visitors. Save your handouts for visitors who are truly interested or else your materials will likely end up in the trash.
8) Follow up. Even with compelling presentation and valuable handouts, you can still fade away in customers’ minds if you don’t keep in touch. As soon as the show ends, send a thank-you email to everyone you met and remind them of the benefits of your product.

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Caroline Meyers
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