While opinions vary greatly about whether these are worthy endeavors or necessary evils, your approach dictates whether the time spent at a trade show is valuable or useless.
Suppliers’ booth goals are almost always connected to lead generation and sales. If you ask any five exhibitors what the best method for getting those leads is, you’ll likely get five different answers.
No matter the method, though, experienced suppliers offer these six best practices:
- START EARLY. Determine as early as possible what your booth will look like and which team members will order tchotchkes, brochures, plants and such. Booths that are thrown together at the last minute stand out like a blue-light special on aisle 9. Don’t be that booth!
- SET CLEAR, INCLUSIVE GOALS. Be clear on your goals, and include all team members. Don’t wait until the show is over to ask staffers for the “required” 10 business cards they collected per day unless you clearly instructed them to do this up front. If you’re holding a drawing, giveaway or special event at your booth, nothing is worse than having your own people be clueless about your plans.
- SCHEDULE SMARTLY. Make sure your team members have energy throughout the show. This means organizing a schedule that allows for different daily hours covered per person and appropriate breaks for meals and coffee runs.
- UNDERSTAND THAT SWAG IS KING. Put some thought into exactly what you’re giving out and how it represents your message. Don’t forget that some people will only swing by your booth for the swag. You have to know when it’s appropriate to say “No, these are only for potential clients.”
- BACK UP THE INTERNET. Don’t rely on in-show Internet connections for booth demos without having a modem or router for backup. If you don’t, it’s a rookie mistake you’ll make only once. If you plan to show your property via a beautiful YouTube video and haven’t arranged for appropriate connections, well, good luck. Trade shows are notorious for not having enough Wi-Fi capabilities. You don’t want to be the exhibitor left with no power.
- FOLLOW UP. Do your post-show follow-up in a timely way. Don’t collect leads if you never intend to reach out and ask for business. Don’t call six months after the show and expect to be remembered. The best way to make connections is to use a theme in your pre-show, exhibit space and post-show contacts to show polished continuity of your product.
What trade-show tips do you follow? What would you never do again? Let’s talk.