How to Prepare for a Trade Show
For a small business or an entrepreneur, a trade show is an excellent avenue to get your product or service in front of your target audience, raise brand awareness, garner the media’s attention or meet with potential business associates or clients. However, none of these things come easy, and all of them require quite a bit of planning. Here is some advice on how to prepare for a trade show so that you can take advantage of these lead-generating events:
Plan: Planning for a trade show is a lengthy process. These events are marathons, not sprints. A trade show offers you a chance to showcase your new product, to find potential partners, identify potential distribution channels and explore areas for future expansion. It’s important to plan ahead before attending a trade show so that you can make the most of your time there.
PR: An important element of planning is PR. You want other attendees to know your product or service will be at the trade show even before the event begins. Al Lautenslager writes, “A well-thought-out publicity approach to a trade show can yield thousands of dollars in free advertising as print space or air time.” PR must be planned out ahead of time. He advises trade show attendees, “Plan your event with publicity in mind, seek media sponsorships, create helpful media kits, make it easy for the media to cover the event and brainstorm story ideas.” In addition to sending out a press release before the show, you can utilize Twitter to create buzz and post tweets about why people should come see you and get to know your product at the show.
Prepare: You need to come prepared for battle to a trade show. Are you prepared for every possible scenario? Do you have more business cards than you think you need, attention-grabbing product displays, boxes of samples, charts and figures explaining the latest numbers and projected sales and an eye-catching set-up for your booth? Do you have a dedicated, driven sales team ready to talk about your product or service and network with other industry professionals? Has everyone been briefed and thoroughly prepared on every detail of the product presentation? This is how to prepare for a trade show. You have to be ready for every possible outcome and ready to meet any person at any time.
Offer Incentives: Your booth will be just another booth unless you incentivize trade show attendees to stop and engage with your salespeople and get to know your product or service. How will you get your booth to stand out? Will you have a sales team roaming the tradeshow in matching outfits that will invite key people to a presentation or product launch party later on in the evening?
As we already mentioned, social media efforts can help get the word out about your booth and motivate attendees to stop by. Regular Facebook updates, blog posts from the showroom floor, Instagram pictures of attendees with your product and videos of customers visiting your booth are all great social media efforts you utilize at the trade show. Possible incentives include a giveaway, free samples, swag, a raffle, a prize drawing or a gift for stopping by.
Present: Sign up to present at the trade show so you can contribute to the industry and also get in front of important industry professionals. When you both speak and exhibit your product or service at a trade show, you maximize your budget to get in front of as many people as possible at one time. It’s a smart move, as it offers you the best chance to inform and educate as many people as possible.