One of the questions I hear most often is whether exhibiting at trade shows is still worthwhile. The answer is definitely. Attending one of the thousands of trade shows happening across the country every year is still the best way to meet new customers face-to-face and get your product on their radars.
Trade shows give you a direct line to hundreds of customers you might not otherwise find, but many new exhibitors make the mistake of thinking that just showing up to the trade show guarantees sales. There’s a lot of preparation involved in making your trade show experience valuable, and today I’m going to share my trade show success tips:
Plan ahead: Your booth is competing with hundreds of others for attention. You need an action plan to truly capture visitors’s interest.
As soon as you book your table, make a list of the things you will need for the trade show. Don’t forget to think about a carpet, your power needs, internet access, promotional literature and signage. Do you need new order forms, or more business cards?
Write out your checklist and make a list of dates by which you need to order each item to ensure you have it in time. Use a copy of the list when packing for the show to ensure you don’t forget anything.
Set goals: Why you are going to this trade show? Is it to introduce your product for the first time or announce a line extension, to win new customers or just to get out and network? Do you want to get a specific number of new prospects each day of the trade show, or is your goal a specific number of orders each day?
Once you know what your goals are, decide how you will achieve them. Do plenty of pre-show promotion so people will arrive at the show looking for you. Create an incentive to visit your booth by offering a coupon redeemable at the show or a giveaway. Use postcards, email marketing or phone calls to reach out to prospective and current customers to announce your special offer and create buzz.
Manage your time: Remember up top when I said there are hundreds of people at each trade show? It’s true, but you don’t want to meet everyone, just those who have an interest in, or need for, your product.
Say hello to everyone who passes your booth so people know you’re approachable. Ask everyone who visits your booth whether they are in the market for your product, if they have a problem your product can solve and if they use your competitor’s products. If the answer to any of these is yes, then the next step is to ask if they are the decision maker or influencer at their company. If yes, then it’s time to start pitching. If not, you may still want to pitch, but make sure you ask for the contact information of the decision maker.
The key is using every minute you’re at the trade show wisely, and that includes politely ending conversations with people who will never become your customers.
Follow up: This is so important. You met a lot of people at the trade show, and they met a lot of people too. After the show, you need to get back on the prospect’s radar. Following up is easier if you make notes about every prospect you meet so you can include a personal detail in your email to jog their memory.
Within 2 weeks of the show, follow-up with every qualified prospect. Remind them about your product and what you discussed at the show. If you don’t receive a response within a month of the show, follow up again. You’ve already invested time in each person you spoke to, so don’t let it go to waste.
If you follow these trade show tips you’ll see more sales after the show, increase your contact list for the future and get the most value out of every trade show you attend.
Article by: Andreea Ayers
Hey.. Timothy here! Andreea has been writing for Handmadeology for about 7 months and and brought us some awesome articles about running a creative business. You can read her articles HERE.
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