3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Trade Show Experience
So, you’ve booked yourself a booth for an upcoming trade show and are ready to make a strong showing and attract new customers to your business. What now? Even with a booth, you may be struggling to figure out how to attract potential customers to your table amid the competition.
Ultimately, trade shows can make a huge impact on your company’s bottom line, but not without some serious hard work and preparation. Whether you’re presenting or just attending, here are three ways to get the most out of your trade show experience.
Formulate A Plan Of Attack Before The Conference Begins
Because trade shows are a big deal, it’s important to have a plan of attack to serve you throughout the trade show. No detail is too small to include in this plan, because a well-formulated may be the difference between success or an average showing during the weekend of the event.
It may serve you well to work from big concepts to the finer details of your plan, beginning with what you hope to accomplish at the trade show.
Every business has unique goals, so clearly defining two to three goals for the conference will help you determine what course to take to achieve those goals.
Make sure your goals are SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, as you formulate them. From there, ask yourself how you will work towards that goal during the trade show, who will be responsible for pursuing that goal, and what you will need to support that pursuit.
For example, you may be looking to generate more leads for your company’s new software-as-a-service budgeting tool. In creating a SMART goal, you may determine that you want to capture 100 new leads over the course of the weekend who already have some interest in personal finance.
You may realize that having your more outgoing employees involved in this goal makes the most sense because they’re able to generate rapport with customers quickly and genuinely.
Speaking with them about this goal and brainstorming any tools that may support their pursuit of it before the event will ensure that you actually meet your goal and are able to capitalize on the leads your trade show yields.
Build And Strengthen Your Network
One of the biggest benefits of attending a trade show is the ability to build and strengthen your network. This can have a major impact on your small business because it allows you to network with thousands of people in a short amount of time.
That said, it’s important for you to have a strategy for dealing with the throngs of people who come to visit your table. You’re likely to get copious amounts of business cards from any number of people looking to network with you.
It’s a good idea to have a system for sorting and organizing these cards so that you know who’s who after your conference is over.
One system is to separate cards into different piles or boxes based on what type of contact you’re networking with. Make piles for prospective customers, potential collaborators, other business owners in similar sectors, and a pile for interested investors.
This will help you sort through each contact and help you remember how they may be helpful to you and your business moving forward. Another tactic to help you manage your trade show’s networking possibilities is to take photos of particularly important contact’s business cards on your phone.
This helps you easily access VIPs and distinguish them among the other cards you receive throughout the weekend. One other way that technology can help you is by organizing contacts you make during the event in a spreadsheet on a laptop.
You can include multiple columns for name, contact info, the same categories as your individual business card boxes, and even a section for notes so you have something from your interaction to reference when you reach back out to them. Apps also exist to help you digitally manage business cards.
Overall, an organized method for moving forward with the contacts you make will really make a difference when it comes to building your network.
Aim To Close
One final way to get the most out of your trade show experience is to work towards an endgame with everyone who comes to your booth. While collecting new leads and building your network are both admirable tasks that you need to accomplish at a trade show, it’s equally important to treat your event as an opportunity to close.
If you don’t, you’ll wind up spending all of your time, energy, and money on making introductions, rather than using people’s excitement at a tradeshow as a way to make sales.
There’s no reason you can’t capture and sell to leads all over the course of one event, so consider different ways to interact with those you’ve just met at the trade show.
Sending out a text or email to all of the names on your contact sheet at the end of the conference’s first day with a special promotion valid for the remainder of the event is just one of the many ways you can work towards closing even as you’re building your network.
Trade shows are a massive undertaking, regardless of whether you’re attending for several days as a participant or a presenter That said, with some elbow grease and careful preparation, you can make a huge difference in your business’ reputation by playing your cards right.
If you’re looking for more information about how to book a booth or boost your sales at a trade show, make sure to check out our other blog posts. With industry experience and insight, you’re sure to improve your trade show experience by following their handy tips and tricks.