Trade show season is here and exhibitors and attendees alike are planning for their trips! It can be an important time for selling or buying products and services that will help set your company up for success. According to Excalibur Exhibits, 49% of trade show attendees plan to buy one or more of the products or services exhibited. This means both exhibitors and attendees need to be sure their time and efforts are worthwhile. Here are some trade show tips we thought would prepare you and your team for a great event:
If you’re an attendee, it’s important to know there will be anywhere from dozens to hundreds of booths and companies pitching their products and services at trade shows. It can be overwhelming and confusing trying to decide where to spend the most time. Before heading to the trade show, sit down with your team and brainstorm where the company wants to do better. What are some areas your company can improve in that might be relevant to the trade show? Establishing the problems, the budget to solve them, and questions to ask will give everyone a clear vision and goal from start to finish.
Once you have listed these, check out the exhibitor list so the team can research what companies might fulfill those needs. Having these pain points established and listing the booths that interest you will make the event smooth and overall more productive.
Book meetings pre-show
If you’ve found a company whose services pique your interest, reach out! More and more companies are sending people to events and only doing meetings, and hosting their own events at night. They won’t be exhibiting or walking the floor. So if you don’t get in front of them and book an appointment pre-show, there’s a good chance they won’t have time to see you.
Exhibitors and attendees know trying to have a “business meeting” during the hustle and bustle of trade shows can be distracting and unproductive. Your team is better off getting face to face time with each other. This ensures all your questions are being answered and equips you with enough information to later discuss with your team – without the noise. Exhibitors can also be afforded the opportunity to show demos or information they’d usually reserve for quieter settings.
Follow social media and hashtags surrounding the trade show
Whether you’re an exhibitor or attendee, following the trade show’s social platforms and hashtags is a great start for preparation. This gives another opportunity to discover and engage with the Who’s Who of the convention: attendees, companies, hosts. These trade shows, often, have their own apps with a built-in social platform. This makes for a great treasure trove of event-specific content.
Connect with others and get your name out there! You can also make it known you are attending by posting on your own business and professional pages while tagging the appropriate accounts.
Both exhibitors and attendees may even allude to some relevant pain points you’re looking forward to talking about. I.e. “I can’t wait to talk about lead conversion and engagement at #_____2020! Who’s going?” This attracts the right market and business and should even result in a productive one-on-one meeting booked ahead of time!
Effort is everything
Booths are a great opportunity for companies to showcase their work. A visually appealing booth with lots of resources and preparation will be noticeable right away. Even if it’s not a company you’re interested in, it’s always worth networking and checking out. Companies who put lots of planning and efforts into their booths often translate the same planning and efforts in their own services. Most of the time, what you see is what you get!
The average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing trade show exhibits at an exhibition, according to SpinGo. Make the most of it! Exhibitors should know effort goes a long way and should aim to hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” when others walk by their booth. Think of clever and creative ways to showcase your product. Provide snacks and trinkets for those who stop by your booth. Use interactive methods to get potential clients involved in the product you’re selling.
Make it fun! Attendees are getting a chance to step away from the office and should be able to enjoy themselves, even if it’s while they’re talking business.
Landing a speaking slot at a trade show is a great strategy for exhibitors to try. If you can get someone in your company on stage, it increases the chances of attendees stopping by your booth. Giving attendees something to remember is an effective way to gain traffic at your booth!
Network and Follow Up
Trade shows aren’t cheap and money was definitely invested in the trip to get there. Not to mention, SpinGo reported 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority. Make the most of it by taking the opportunity to network with other businesses and attendees.
Start by attending the social events put on by other companies or by the trade show itself. Invite new colleagues to join for dinner or drinks after. Keep the conversation going and make sure to connect with them on LinkedIn. Networking is never a bad idea and can be a great way to form solid relationships with other businesses.
Exhibitors, don’t forget to follow up with those you connected with during the event. You’re going to get 50% or more deals after the show ends, so having a strategy post-show is important. Following up with leads in a timely fashion will make or break your ROI from attending a trade show!
Lastly, don’t forget the mints!
Nobody likes bad breath. Since the nature of trade shows is already fast-paced and time-consuming, there isn’t much time to do a quick mouthwash session in the bathroom. There will be lots of conversations and no one wants to smell the tuna sandwich and onion rings you had for lunch. Exhibitors, you should do yourself a favor and offer mints on your tables to provide this need for attendees and your own team. It’s a small, but practical idea to start a conversation and your colleagues and potential business partners will be grateful, in the end.
Trade shows can be amazing opportunities, but require advance planning, a thoughtful approach, clean execution and follow-up. These tips will help your team take full advantage of trade shows and events, creating a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone. Make it worth the investment!