Trade show preparation can take up a lot of time, especially if you’re new to the trade exhibition scene. But here are a few time-honored tips from veterans of the circuit to help you prepare, engage, and make loyal customers out of the event’s attendees.
Your booth is your only chance to make a good first impression, and we all know how important first impressions are. So booth design, accessibility, comfort, and visibility are key. Many small businesses enter the foray with nothing more than a folding table. Huge mistake. Booths require thought, money, and effort. Design your booth to be inviting, with areas for comfortable seating, good lighting, and with your product as the central focus. If people engaged in your booth are comfortable, just taking a breather from the concrete jungle that is the trade show, they’ll be more open to listening to your pitch, watching a demo, or just taking it all in. Comfortable seating, faux wood grain flooring, and an open atmosphere can create the impression that your booth (and your company) are worth their time.
Being well-prepared for conversations ahead of time will generate a feeling of comfort for both visitors to the booth and staffers as well. You’ve walked into stores before where an employee engaged entirely in something else yells, “Welcome to…” You nod and ignore them. That’s not going to work at the exhibition. A comment or question intended to truly begin a conversation is the route to go. “Are you familiar with our product?” “What brings you to the trade show today?” These types of questions indicate that you’re interested in them, in their needs, and with continued questions, you can begin to discern how best to approach them with your product. But the staffers must be prepped ahead of time to be engaging, gregarious, and energized, from open to close.
Following up after the event is just as important as prepping beforehand. Capturing names, phone numbers, and email addresses is crucial for follow-up. It’s very little to ask, and you can offer something in return, whether it’s a chance to win a drawing, receive special offers, or get a discount on an immediate purchase. Giveaways to passers-by don’t get you anything. But if you get their contact information, you increase your marketing target population, and have opportunities for continued contact and sales.
Trade shows are worth the time an energy you put into them, if you do it right. Take it from business owners who’ve put hundreds of miles on the company car – prep, engage, and follow up for a lucrative trade show experience.