You’ve finally started your dream business. You have a website and an online marketing plan, but you’re just not turning leads into customers at an acceptable rate. Having a booth at a trade show is a great way to provide product sampling for potential customers. However, if you’ve never exhibited, there are a few things you should know beforehand.
Not every trade show is the same. You should research shows within your traveling distance and collect brochures and booth packets. When you have two or three shows you are seriously considering, it’s a good idea to attend the show first, before you commit. Walk around and check out the exhibits. Would you fit in? Does your product make sense here? Does this show target your potential customers?
Deciding what section your booth should be in is just as important as the show itself. You don’t want to be right next to a competing company, but you shouldn’t be too out of place, either. Familiarizing yourself with your area will give you a leg up.
Display With Pop
You want to customize your display to reflect your business attitude. Your display needs to be professional, but also attention grabbing. Far too often, companies simply design their displays to fit in as much information as possible. Think about it from the attendee’s perspective: if he were to walk up to your booth without knowing anything about your product, would he be interested, or just overwhelmed?
Plan to have demos and let the product speak for itself. Be present to fill in any gaps and to answer any questions your new leads may have. The display is there to draw the potential customers in. You make the sale.
Tending to your booth and entertaining potential customers can be tiresome. Plan a schedule that allows breaks for meals, but also one that gives you a rest from the monotony of having to stand, smile and answer the same questions over and over. Breaks help keep you and your staff fresh and motivated.
Trade shows are good for more than just obtaining new customers. They are also a good place for meeting and learning about your competition. Make time in your schedule to walk around and speak with other exhibitors. Find out who has done this show before, and get some tips. Perhaps they know of similar shows that you could be a part of.
You can also network with exhibitors whose products could be used in conjunction with yours. Your two companies could market your products together, showing how they complement each other. This can enlarge your customer pool, and you would be splitting the marketing costs.
Take Notes To Follow Up
It will be impossible to remember everyone you meet and what every conversation was about by the end of the show, even with that pile of business cards at the end of the day. Take notes about each lead you spoke with and gather as much contact information as you can. Don’t try to fit it all on the back of a business card, either. Lead cards are a great way to keep track and stay organized.
Collecting all this valuable information won’t do you any good if you don’t follow up right away. Don’t wait a month or even a week to begin your follow ups. Keep in mind that the show attendees were there in need of products just like yours. Don’t let the potential customers slip away to a competitor because you didn’t want to seem needy. Instead, be available without being pushy. Start with a follow-up phone call to verify the lead’s information. Then, be sure to send him information about your product, and samples if you can. Follow up that interaction with a phone call or email to make sure your lead has received the information and samples, and ask him if he has any questions.
Positive word-of-mouth is free publicity that is worth its weight in gold, and trade-show marketing is one of the best ways to get your product out there. No one knows your product better than you do, so show it off.