Why attend tradeshows and events?
Tradeshows, events and trade missions are opportunities for you to promote your products and services to a mass audience. Participation in these activities may require a significant investment of time and money, but careful planning and deliberation can result in a great marketing opportunity.
Pick the right trade show
Improve your chances of success by researching and committing to a show that provides the highest return on investment. For example, make sure that the majority of expected attendees fall into your target audience. Ask the trade show’s organizers for detailed statistics on the demographics or results of previous shows.
Simply use a search engine like Google to find tradeshows near you, or talk to your local tourism agency.
Some trade shows may offer you the opportunity to profile your goods or services alongside complementary offerings, instead of being located directly beside your competitors. This allows you to explore other market segments. For example, a wedding dress designer could attend both a fashion and bridal tradeshow.
Set an objective
Similar to general business planning, setting goals helps you stay focused and compare your return on investment from show to show. For example, are you trying to sell on the spot, increase brand awareness or meet potential partners? How many shows do you plan to attend in one year? How many people do you want to talk to?
Choose your tactics
Consider what marketing materials you will need for the show. Bring business cards, pop-up banners, brochures, samples or promotional products that identify your business and contact information. Prize draws are an easy way to collect contact information while engaging with the attendees.
Train your team
Shows are different from regular sales environments. Attendees may be tired, impatient, or distracted. Prepare your team to work at your booth by clearly indicating what you expect from them. Personal grooming, choice of clothing, personality, knowledge of your products and services, and listening skills are among the factors that make or break your promotional efforts.
Invite your customers and prospects
Most show organizers develop some form of publicity or promotional package, but you may want to do more to promote your own business. Invite your customers, partners and sales prospects. Make sure attendees can find you and have a reason to visit your exhibit.
Here are some helpful hints for promoting your show participation:
- Find out what opportunities there are for you to promote your business through the trade show organizer’s website, mass mailings and other promotional materials.
- Use your business website, blog, newsletter or social networking activities to invite current and prospective customers to the show.
- Use your email or mailing lists of current and prospective customers to get the word out about your participation in the show. You could distribute invitation passes to customers and prospects at least two months prior to the show.
- Put reminders on invoices, statements and email correspondence — try using your email’s automatic signature feature.
Follow up and evaluate your efforts
If you have any sales leads or requests for more information, follow up as soon as possible. Each passing day dulls the positive impression in which you invested so much to create. Keep track of your return on investment. Calculate how much you invested to generate each new lead or to make a sale. Track how many people saw your display and have become more aware of your product or service — divide your costs by this number. Was it worth it? What worked well? What will you do differently at your next show?