Trade shows are rated as the leading source for purchasing information–ahead of 12 alternative resources-according to the “Power of Trade Shows”. Ninety-one percent [91%] of 1,009 decision-makers surveyed report that trade shows are ‘extremely useful’ when making purchases for their companies.”
7 Ways to Maximise The Success Of Your Trade Show
1) Before saying “yes” to a tradeshow know what you want to achieve.
What are you goals for participating? Is it to sell X no. of widgets? Is it to gather X no. of leads? Is it to become known to X no. of wholesalers? Is it to launch a new product? Be very clear on what the goal or goals are. Write them down.
2) Which tradeshow?
Obviously, tradeshow participation costs money so it’s important that you do your research to determine which events are going to give you a good ROI. And – which are going to most effectively help you reach your goals.
Note too that many “open to the public” expos are frequented by “tyre kickers” or people who are considering buying one day, but not right away. If your goal is to achieve immediate sales, these types of events may not be for you.
Is this a fit for your business? For instance, if your reason for exhibiting is to “road test” a new product before you release it to the market then spending $10,000 or $15,000 is a very inexpensive investment.
3) Book your exhibit.
Before you book, check out the floor plan. See which booths are available. Notice where the flow of traffic moves. Notice which companies have already booked and notice where they are located.
4) Plan your exhibit to match the needs of your audience.
Retail customers have different needs to wholesale customers. Retail customers often want information. Wholesale customers are here to buy now.
5) Design your exhibit to meet your objectives.
If your goal is to generate $x in direct sales during the event, what kind of specials and merchandising do you need to create the highest amount of attraction? Consider spruiking and demonstrations.
If your goal is to capture 1000 names and addresses of prospects, what offers can you create that encourage people to leave their details. And what can you do to stand out from other exhibits and attract people to your booth ahead of anyone else?
Display / Booth Options
a) Pop up walls – Curved
The most effective display option but also the most expensive to hire or purchase and also the most cumbersome to transport.
b) Tradeshow Banner Displays
Banners are far more economical but nowhere near as eye-catching.
c) Table Display
Make sure that your table is covered in a nice cloth which is a neutral colour or matches your businesses corporate colours. White would probably be the best colour as any advertising material you have will then stand out more prominently on white.
Create a Welcoming Environment
Here are some tips to help you establish an initial connection opportunity with a prospect:
- If you have a booth at an Expo, don’t have a table at all. Instead, encourage people to walk-in to your display and interact with it.
- Feature items/devices people can interact with … that get people involved. Things like demonstrations, laptops with analysis tools, before and after pictures, test results, samples etc.
- Use appropriate music, inviting lighting and colours to attract people.
- Don’t stand at the front of your stand like a piranha ready to pounce. Instead, have a stand or display that invites people to come in and interact with it and stand in the shadows, in the background so people feel comfortable wandering around and looking at what you have to offer.
- When they come into your display, simply say “Hi.” Or “Hi, beautiful day, isn’t it or something friendly but not ‘grab them by the throat’.
Other icebreakers could include:
“Gorgeous/funny looking, aren’t they. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it.”
Meaningful Customer Conversation
Most exhibitors think they need to tell potential customers how fabulous they and their product is. The real fact is that potential customers don’t want to hear unnecessary information. All they care about is what it can do for them, how it can improve their situation etc.
To begin with you need to figure out what you can learn from your exhibit visitor. Everybody’s favourite subject is themselves so ensure your potential customers talk about themselves, but also ensure this information interests you too. For example, “What distributors/product do you currently use?”
You are competing for visitor attention with 1oo’s of other exhibitors so it’s important that you have something in your display that acts as a draw card. And remember, every other exhibitor will also have their thinking caps on coming up with something that is designed to attract attention, as well.
With that in mind, the most powerful approach to use is often to, at the very least, have a very, very, very powerful lead generation offer. Not just entry into a competition (because everyone has that). But something that is SO powerful and packed with value that people say to themselves, “Wow, I have to have that!”
Can you bundle together several hundreds of dollars worth of soft dollar e-books or CDs and give them away? Here are some other ideas:
- Speaking with people and asking for their details (naturally).
- FREE mini analysis they can do on the spot (in exchange for their business card).
- Go into the draw for a FREE “widget”.
- FREE copy of a book or a report in exchange for their business card.
- FREE consultation certificate in exchange for a business card.
No matter which FREE offer you decide to run with, it’s important to promote the offer in a poster displayed on the wall.
If you sell the type of product or service that can actually be sold at a trade show, by all means, ask for the sale. If, on the other hand, there are decision makers involved and the prospect needs time to consider options, it would be crazy asking for the sale right then and there.
Instead, if you have determined that your prospect is interested in your type of product or service, ask for a commitment towards the next step, which might be:
- a promise to send a proposal
- a telephone call to establish an appointment
- an appointment
- a demonstration etc.
After The Show
Now that you have a whole bunch of leads, it’s very important that you follow-up each of these leads with a thank you letter and then a phone call.
The day after you arrive back at the office enter their details into your database remembering to record the source of the lead and send them either a letter or a card. All the card needs to say is:
“Thanks for visiting our exhibit at. … ”
This will reinforce their memory of their experience speaking with you at the exhibition and also reinforce that you do care about their business.
Secure The Next Step
Two days after the event, telephone all interested prospects to say a personal thanks and just reinforce your commitment towards following up
E.g. “As promised I’ll put together a proposal. .. “
Remember, a sale might be a 5 or more step process so it’s important that you progress each prospect further down the path towards a sale, a step at a time.
Your exhibit is the perfect environment to meet prospective customers. It is you ultimately YOU that will close the sale not the exhibit itself.
The most valuable part of the exhibition is the people you’ll meet. Listen to their questions and concerns and attempt to give them your full attention and honest valuable ideas.
If you are responsive to potential customers needs on exhibition days they will feel comfortable with you!
Don’t be afraid to break away from the usual conventions or trade show rules, however sticking to what you know and feel comfortable with will ensure a successful trade show.