Most industries have their annual or semi-annual trade shows where you, your competitors as well the odd new startup attends to show off your latest and greatest and show prospective clients why your company is the most innovative, forward thinking and must-do-business-with company there is. It’s your chance to really dazzle and be the one trade show booth that they go home remembering. But like anything in life, competition is tough, and to stand out in the crowd, you’re really going to need to push the envelope this year. But how do you do that while keeping within budget? Maybe even save a little cash for other marketing channels this year? Well my friends, you’ve come to the right place.
Is This Tradeshow Right?
These days, almost every industry has multiple trade shows that they can attend for their particular industries multiple times per year. There are so many opportunities now that you may want to just stop for a moment and ask yourself if the upcoming tradeshow is right for you and your company. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. What’s at stake? What are your clients expecting? Are you rumored to make a big reveal? Are your stakeholders needing a reassuring boost that announcing something big at a tradeshow could provide? Which of your competitors will be there? What sort of cost is involved? All important questions that need to be analyzed to make sure that you’re properly allocating your marketing budget. Are there bigger shows later in the year that you could attend? What is the timing for this trade show?
It’s All About The People
With the right staff representing your brand, you can sell a cage to lion. A funny pun, sure, but it’s very much true. If you’re able to get the right salesperson on the tradeshow floor wearing your brand and living and breathing your products, you have the opportunity to develop long lasting, strong business relationships. Building the relationship is as important as selling your product. Your client wants to know that if they’re going to do business with you and your company, that you know your stuff, you’re on top of your game, you know the industry and you know the answers to the questions they have. A great salesperson will know your product, brand or service inside and out – their confidence and knowledge is what sells, so you best have your finest salespeople on the tradeshow floor building those relationships. Maybe even create your own t shirt to have them distribute to potential clients. This will help them stand out. But most importantly, they will need to know how to follow up on leads, remember client details such as company names and the names of the people they spoke to, and they’re going to have to be personable. Find these people, and your trade show event will be a success.
When you are are trying to stand out at a trade show event, branding matters. Your business branding should be present throughout the entire trade show booth design just as it is in franchise marketing materials. This is what makes consumers remember your brand. This is true even for those trade show attendees who never even approach your booth. If you want to create a trade show event booth design that stand outs from the competition, make your branding present in all aspects.
Know Hot Tradeshow Trends
There have been some amazing innovations in exhibit technology. Displays are getting greener, cheaper, more durable and really catch people’s eyes as they walk the tradeshow floor. Keep these things in mind when considering your exhibit and make sure that your choices fit the venue. If it’s a big loud show meant to razzle and dazzle, then you want to be loud and flashy. Get the Big Screen TVs, lighting effects, digital signage ideas, loud sounds and music and make it pop. You want to be the darling of the show, so if your budget allows it and the venue is right, and you’ve considered all of the aforementioned variables – you really have a chance to get some eyeballs looking at your exhibit. It’s just as much about building relationships as it is about building brand awareness – especially if you’re a new startup to the industry.
Stay In The Know
If you want to always stay current on the latest trade show event trends, or if you want to learn how to start your own consulting business in event management the future, you are going to need to do a little extra work. However, it does not have to be difficult. Consider signing up for a trade show and event magazine or newsletter. These trade show resources allow you to keep up with the ever changing industry trends to make sure you are always utilizing trade show best practices. Do this one simple task to make sure you do not let your event skills get rusty.
An Opportunity To Train Clients
Tradeshows are great ways to offer support to not only clients considering your business and practice real time marketing, but also offer support to your loyal customer base that already does business with you. Remember those ace salespeople we mentioned? Because they know your products and services so well, they should be equally as versed in customer care and support. Show everybody that you are the one company that has their backs. Not only do you already build a great product, but you have the support to back it up. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Remember the old adage – what have you done for me lately? Your customers may rely on your product, but remind them why they chose your business in the first place with some stellar training and support.
Watch Out For Pitfalls!
Trade shows are great – they allow you to really shine. With the right preparation, research and budget, your trade show efforts can go a long way to helping you gain customers, build relationships, get an ear to what’s happening in the industry and supporting your clients. Having said that, there are some caveats that you need to remember:
- Travel costs can be high – keep this in mind with your budget
- Your booth can be expensive – but think of it as an investment you plan to reuse
- There will be a lot of competition at the show, so show up prepared to win the minds and hearts of your clients and prospective clients
All in all, trade shows can be one of the best investments with the right preparation, as long as you do not whip out the business credit card for every little thing. After the trade show, you will want to analyse what sort of return on your investment you came back with. How many leads were you able to gather? What is the overall feel of your existing relationships? What’s the buzz on the announcement you made? It’s just as important to analyse the data afterwards so you know what sort of return you’re getting for your marketing dollars.
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