If you have a product idea that you want to sell then you should consider attending a trade show. There’s nothing quite like the buzz you get in a huge space filled with people all highly knowledgeable and passionate about the same field. There are some many advantages to attending trade shows, many say it is worth the time and cost just to meet certain people that wouldn’t be able to meet normally! But before you book your tickets and follow the crowd, there is lots to think about and prepare for. Especially when you’re shivering in a venue at 6am setting out your exhibition banners and merchandise, you’d better know there’s a good reason for being there! So follow these tips to get the best when you invest in a trade show:
- Make sure you attend the right one. This is crucial! You don’t want to spend all that money to realise after it wasn’t right for your niche market. Spend some time checking out the trade show’s website in order to see what other companies are going to attend and by looking at last year’s photos you may even be able to see the type of people that attend the trade show!
- Visibility is vital – if your main competitors are showing then you must too. Don’t give the impression you are in decline.
- It might be a good idea to stay at the hotel associated with the event, especially if the event is going on for more than one or two days. Although this tends to work out quite a bit more expensive you can also use it as another networking event! Many of the other retailers and buyers may be staying at the same hotel too so after the day’s event you could met up in the lounge for a cocktail.
- Make a plan. The worst way to go to a trade show is unprepared. You need a goal and objectives! So arrive early and get your hands on a map and a directory. Make sure you know who is going to be next to you and what they are selling – perhaps even look at their colours of their brand beforehand so to make sure you stand out!
- Dress the part. Whether you are on the stall or walking around networking, people will take you more seriously if you dress appropriately. If the trade show is about sporting equipment and fitness, then you don’t need a three-piece suit – wear what is appropriate. Oh and wear comfortable shoes!! Don’t be silly and wear a new pair of smart shoes or heels, play it safe with a pair of flats because you will be on your feel all day long.
- Bring businesses cards and copies of your sell sheet with you everywhere. You could meet an important contact anywhere–like the lobby, at the bar, or even riding the elevator. You never know, so be prepared.
- Pick up a copy of every piece of literature that is available and try and make sure these cards give you information! If you work a trade show hard, you could walk away with dozens of cards.
- Do your follow-up – make contact with firms you targeted at the show soon after it. You’d be surprised how many people forget to do it – one estimate says 75% of leads are not followed up after an event. Be the one who stands out by contacting everyone you spoke with or took literature from. Put them on the Christmas card and newsletter list and maintain contact.
- Remember to only take the best! This is the most energetic and personable staff you have, make sure they are confident about making eye contact, striking up conversations and smiling all day long! Don’t leave the boffins behind though because you’ll need them for detailed product information!
Trade shows are a great way to socialize, sell and network! I hope these tips haven’t put you offer attended or having a stall at a trade show, just come prepared, it’s dog eat dog in the trade show world!