Your first trade show is an exciting milestone for any new business. It’s an opportunity to take your brand new company out for a test drive and see how it runs.
If you’re investing in a trade show stand, you want to make sure you get the most out of the experience. It’s not enough to just turn up on the day, you need to create a strategy and be prepared!
If you’re not sure where to begin, fear not. Check out these 8 things you need to do before your first trade show.
1. Do Your Research
Before signing up for a trade show, it’s important that you do your research. When it comes to attendees, find out who typically attends the show. How long do they stay at the event? What are the spending figures?
Regarding the trade show organizers – are they reputable? How do they market the event?
How many other stands will there be? What’s the typical traffic flow? What time are the major demonstrations and events?
All of this information should be available from the organizers and will be crucial for planning out the next steps.
2. Set Objectives
Other than simply getting your brand out there and having a fun day out, what do you aim to achieve from your first trade show?
With any element of your business strategy, it’s important to set measurable goals.
Attracting new business and making sales is likely the name of the game. But, see if you can pin it down to a type of customer profile and a specific sales figure. This will make the success of the event measurable, and give you something to build on for the next time.
3. Form Your Team
Depending on the size of your company, this may be an obvious choice. If you already have people in sales and marketing, this is their time to shine! Even employees from different departments may have transferable skills which will make them an asset to the event.
It’s also an opportunity for any team member to have a different experience and enjoy representing their company. After all, trade shows should be fun!
If your brand is still in its infancy, it might just be you and a business partner. In this case, you have two options. Firstly, you can rope in willing friends and family to come and help. This is a good option if they know your product well enough to answer questions and make a sale!
Otherwise, consider a professional trade show agency. These representatives will be able to get to grips with your product immediately and are a dab hand at sales and PR.
4. Plan Your Pitch
Trade shows are a unique opportunity. It’s not often you can meet so many hot leads from within your industry – and in person! However, it’s also likely that your competition is preparing for exactly the same.
This is why your sales approach needs to be your battle plan. It’s not enough to just turn up and wait for people to show interest. Your pitch needs to be a proactive technique of showcasing the unique selling points of your product or service.
If you have the opportunity to make this interactive, do so. You’re more likely to engage visitors if there’s a presentation to watch, a product to try out, or an activity to take part in. If your product lends itself to free samples – this is a fantastic opportunity to get into the mouths and minds of your target market!
A great way to engage at trade shows is to run a competition or incentive. Something which will prompt visitors to take action there and then. This might be a giveaway or a discount. Whatever it is, make sure it’s going to be financially beneficial for your company.
Also, decide how you’re going to engage those ‘cool’ leads. Even those who aren’t interested right now could be in the future, so consider providing a tablet for attendees to sign up to your mailing list.
5. Branding, Branding, Branding
This is the fun part! How are you going to make the blank canvas of a trade stand your own?
If you already have a strong visual brand design – your logo, brand colors, typography, etc – use these wherever appropriate.
If you haven’t yet formally decided on those details, then your approach at least needs to be consistent and identifiable. Make sure you’re armed with business cards, brochures, and flyers so that you can thrust them into any open hands.
Use a reputable company like Printmoz.com for your roll-up banners, flags, and signs. These are well worth investing in as they can be used time and again.
Keep your social media up to date throughout the event too, this is a good way of generating some easy content!
Finally, consider whether you’ll be giving out any branded freebies like pens, pins, or candy. These can be a valuable tool for staying in the minds of visitors even after the trade show has ended.
6. Maintain Your Trade Show Energy
Considering the peak times of the show, plan with your team when you’ll take breaks. Trade shows can be incredibly demanding of your physical and mental energy! If the show is over several days, you’ll need to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s important that all of you get time to sit down and eat, away from the stand. Pack snacks to keep your energy up in-between times too!
When it’s your time to take a break, you can also take a walk around and see what the competition is doing. You might meet some new industry contacts or get some business tips! Remember to be warm and friendly – you’re representing your brand at all times.
7. Follow Up
After the show is finished and you’ve had a moment to recover, follow up with your new contacts. If you’ve met other industry pros, send them a message, follow them on socials and send them some positivity. You never know what company growth opportunities may come from it.
If you’ve collected emails of potential clients, write an engaging message to keep yourselves fresh in their minds. Do this as soon as possible after the event while they still remember the interaction they had with you.
8. Debrief and Repeat!
After all the excitement of the trade show, return to your objectives. What did you achieve? What would you change for next time? This is a valuable exercise in refining your business growth strategy to make sure your next trade show is even more worthwhile and effective.
Finally, thank your team and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!
Trade Show Success
The first trade show is an exciting time for any new business. A chance to put months or years of business strategizing into action with live, in-person feedback! Follow these 8 tips and you’ll be well on track for trade show success.
For more valuable guides and business tips, check out our other blog posts.