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Trade shows are a great way to grow your business. They are catalysts for new ideas, products and partnerships. They provide opportunities to meet and share with potential clients and industry peers. They are indispensable in the repertoire of any successful business. Yet without proper preparation, trade shows can also be costly in more than just monetary ways.
In our 21 years of guiding our clients through the preparation and execution to trade show success, these six tips continue to provide a simple and effective guide.
Preparation is paramount in all professional matters, and nowhere is this truer than a trade show. Most trade shows have very strict policies when it comes to booking. This means you have to book early. Not only will this ensure that you get the best booth location possible (which will give you the best exposure), but if any booking issues should arise, there is ample time to rectify them.
The earlier you book the more time you have to plan a shipping timeline for your booth materials as well. This is important if you are traveling long distances, since nearly all of your presentation material will have to be shipped. Usually there are very specific timelines and delivery windows for packages.
You can expect a “no earlier than” and a “no later than” shipping date in addition to specific address instructions including: building floors, booth numbers, registration numbers and organization names. Follow these exactly. The last thing you want is for your booth equipment not to show up when you do.
Once you have your space booked and your materials organized, make a list for the day before you leave. This way you can ensure you have everything you need with you—including that extra flash drive with your backup PowerPoint presentation. You never know what could happen.
Presentation, image and branding should be at the back of your mind before, during, and after the trade show. Consider your clothing options. Depending on your industry, lean towards professional dress or in some cases branded dress. Consider how your image aligns with your brand. You will be meeting numerous industry professionals and potential clients—making a good impression is critical.
If you have the opportunity to speak, do it! And if you speak, don’t sell. Demonstrate your expertise and though leadership by helping and guiding others. Talk about fist hand experience solving industry problems; offer solutions not pitches. You will gain more trust and credibility which leads to more business.
Don’t forget your branded freebies and giveaways. Having pens, bags, and/or USB drives available to everyone that visits your booth will give visitors something useful to take home with them. No doubt you will be giving away business cards, but those are easily lost or thrown away. Some useful merchandise will add value to your name and brand.
Following up after a trade show will ensure that you build trust with your clients and prospects, bringing your more opportunities in the process. Do the best you can to follow up with each person that you met. Hand written cards are invaluable, but even an email or a phone call will not go unnoticed.
If you would like more tips or need help preparing for an upcoming trade show, please let us know. We are happy to help!
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