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Trade shows are some of the best places to connect with customers, engage with serious buyers, and gain valuable insight into your market from industry peers. You may expect to just show up, set up your table and backdrop, then see the leads just pour in but strategic planning and outreach is crucial to ensure your trade show business development efforts are maximized.
Here are 5 steps to make the most of your presence at your next industry event:
There are many trade shows, but not all of them are worth attending. It’s important to carefully select those events which your target prospects and most valued customers frequent. Next, set your business goals before the event and then develop a timeline to help you manage the many aspects of attendance. Included in the timeline should be development and printing of sales and marketing collateral, the reserving of any equipment needed, writing any speeches or presentations you’ll give, and of course shipping and any necessary travel time. Good preparation sets the foundation for success!
Once you’ve selected your show and started on all the tools you’ll need to make a good impression, it’s time to make a list of all the important prospects you plan to meet. Reach out to them with a pre-event email so they’re aware of your presence. Early communication boosts the attention your company will receive at the conference. Make sure to announce your attendance on social media as well, using any designated event hashtags. People will be more likely to stop by for a chat if they’ve seen your name before and know to expect you.
Make yourself visible with a well-organized and personalized booth that matches your company’s brand image. Be friendly, open and available to people you come across. One of the best ways to make yourself visible is to become a speaker at the event. Doing so boosts your credibility and attracts more attendees to your booth. Remember, the more attendees you have at your booth, the more others will be attracted by curiosity.
Don’t be shy, talk to as much people as you can! Fill your schedule with pre-arranged meetings with partners and potential clients. Go to the extracurricular activities happening during the event to meet even more people. Opportunities are always around the corner and partnerships often begin in unexpected ways – it’s not always the person with the biggest booth that gets the most out of a trade show. Maintaining a positive and outgoing attitude will elevate your presence and make a memorable impact with clients and prospects.
5. Follow Up
After the event, make sure to follow up with a friendly email to all the new people you met. Get them that data sheet you promised, or the presentation they were interested in. With everything that happens at a trade show, it can be easy for your contacts to forget a specific meeting in a sea full of them. By reconnecting with your contacts a few days after the end of an industry event, you reaffirm your brand’s place in their mind. Finally, review your attendance as a whole. Did you meet your goals? What worked and what didn’t? Note changes you can implement to make your next conference an even bigger success.
Trade show business development may be a lot of work, but in the end it’s worth the effort, especially when you approach them with a solid strategy in place. With the right planning, execution and follow-up, you’re sure to generate new leads, impress prospects, and drive an increase in sales sure to please your management.
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