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How to Prepare Your Business or Product for a Trade Show
Get More Leads and New Customers by Preparing Thoroughly
In this article we look at how to prepare for a trade show so that your business gets more leads and new customers and any new product you want to launch, gets the best possible coverage and exposure. Exhibiting at Trade Shows can be expensive, both in terms of cash and resources so getting the max out of any show your company exhibits at is vital.
Preparation is the Key to Success at a Trade Show
Preparation does not start with packing boxes into the back of a truck, getting ready to set off for the trade show. In fact, good preparation may start months, even a year or more, before the opening of the show.
First, Choose The Right Trade Show!
The first thing you need to establish is which trade show is right for you. In order to decide this, you need to know the target audience of any show you are considering. You can get this from the trade show organizers and this information may also be published on their website or publicity literature for the show. Ask yourself how does their target audience compare with your target market – if it is a good fit, it could be a good show for you.
Do Your Pre-Show Marketing
The best way to let people know you will be exhibiting at a show is to tell them about it! This might seem blindingly obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people blame the show organizers when not enough people visit their stand.
Pre-show marketing could be sending complimentary show tickets to your marketing database and existing customer database.
Publicising your upcoming trade show event on your website, facebook page and other social networking sites can all pay dividends. Offering a competition with an entry form that has to be delivered to your trade show booth in person, inviting visitors to submit photographs of the show in general and your stand in particular can encourage participation.
Example Trade Show Hall Layout
Choose Your Stand Position
Next, you need to choose your stand position within the show hall(s).
- Choose a prime position on a busy thoroughfare – ideally a corner position at the junction of two busy walkways.
- Consider where the maximum footfall traffic will be, will visitors be walking by on their way to the restrooms, demonstration theatres or restaurants?
- Prime positions will not be obscured by trade show organizers’ signage, pillars or other obstructions either.
- Check out the positioning of elevators in the hall. A great position is one that can be seen as visitors travel down the elevator – particularly if you have hanging signage or something like a blimp or other eye-catching feature flying above your stand. Another good spot is near the top of an elevator where your stand comes into view as visitors arrive at the next level.
- Perhaps surprisingly, a bad position is really close-by to the entrance. Visitors need a little time to adjust to being in the hall and don’t start looking at booths until they have walked a few yards. Choosing a spot too close to the door could have them walking right by you without stopping!
Choose Your Stand Layout
Layout and design of your stand is crucial and will be governed by your budget for the space allocated at the show (usually priced by the square metre) and your budget for the stand components. Pop up display stands are very popular for small to medium sized businesses and, used in conjunction with banner stands and display stands for products, literature and perhaps media demonstrating your company’s products and services can be configured to fit almost any space.
The golden rules ...
- Keep it simple: don’t be tempted to cram every bit of information onto your stand design.
- Pick a couple of key elements, use eyecatching colors and slogans
- Don’t clutter up the stand with unnecessary furniture or plants so that it is difficult for visitors to understand what you are trying to sell!
What are The Unique Selling Points of Your Company
Use the Template below to make a list of U.S.P.s (Unique Selling Points) for your own Company and make sure all your staff understand these completely, so that talking about them becomes second nature.
Template for USPs for Your Company
- What is special about our product(s)?
- What is unique about our approach?
- How do we do things differently to competitors?
- Have we got special accreditation such as ISO9002, Investors in People or are we members of a recognised trade body such as The Booksellers Association or The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors?
- Have we got any special delivery arrangements, methods of ordering (can we take on-line orders for example)?
- What customer support do we offer after the sale?
- Are there any special "add-ons‟?
- What represents real value for money?
Train Your Trade Show Staff
Your trade show booth or display stand staff are the ambassadors of your company whilst you are at the show.
- Make sure they are confident in answering questions about your products, services and the company as a whole.
- Give them the reassurance of knowing who to direct visitors to if there is a question they cannot answer - don't let them 'waffle'!
- Emphasize that existing customers visiting the stand are at least as important as any potential new customers and opportunities to up-sell to them are sometimes more valuable than a new lead.
- Make sure they all look smart and well-presented. It is often a good idea to have a corporate uniform or maybe polo shirts with your logo just for the show.
- Make sure they are all scheduled to get regular breaks and get time to look around the show. Visiting competitor stands can be a valuable part of exhibiting at any trade show.
- Motivate your staff, offering a reward for qualified leads, signups, sales, etc. can all help to motivate staff, especially when feet are aching at the end of the day! Don’t be mean – it will be well worth it!
Once you have a compiled your list of the USPs of your company using the template above, make sure that all Exhibition staff have a copy. They should learn and inwardly digest this as it is important that there is a commonality in approach - in other words that everyone is singing from the same song sheet.
Some Ideas For Interactive Game Shows For Your Stand
How To Get More Visitors to Your Trade Show Booth
Getting more visitors to your stand is tricky, but by being innovative, you can make your display inviting and your booth, a fun and interesting place to be. It will draw visitors like a magnet!
Don't Encourage Tire-Kickers!
Be careful though, use these techniques wisely at shows where the majority of visitors fit the profile for your target customer - otherwise you will have the trade show equivalent of 'tire kickers' - they are interested because of the innovative way you have drawn them in - but they have no intention of buying your product or service!
There are a variety of ways in which you could attract visitors to the stand.
- Hire a magician or entertainer
- Have regular product demonstrations that encourage audience participation and interest
- Have fun games on the stand like a model race car track or similar diversion
There are lots of ideas that won’t break the budget and often, the more innovative you can be in encouraging visitors to have a little fun at what might otherwise be a rather dull day trailing round endless stands with nothing much to differentiate one from the other, will really pay dividends!
Lead Capture Form Example
Lead Collection and Post-Show Follow-Up
Make sure you have a foolproof, 100% reliable method of lead capture. If anyone wants more details, a quotation, a salesman visit, a sample ... whatever they need, just make sure you have the mechanisms in place to make sure they get it.
Turn those potential customers into new customers, upsell to existing customers. Be sure everyone in the chain knows exactly what they need to do to make things happen. That means having office staff back at base who are dealing with the leads you generate at the show on a daily basis, during the show. These team members are equally as important as the ones manning the stand!
After the Show
After the show, you don’t just pat yourself on the back and say how well that all went! This is where the real work begins. If you have followed all the planning steps for how to prepare your business or product for a trade show, you will have a ton of leads to follow up on.
Make sure you deal with every single one, meticulously and on time and I guarantee you that your company will fall into the small percent of trade show exhibitors who actually follow through after the show and capitalise on their investment.
When every single lead has been dealt with, have a post show get-together. Analyse what went well, what didn’t go so well. What you would do better, or differently next time.
Exhibiting at a trade show is a huge investment in time, money and resources, especially for smaller companies, don’t waste a second or a cent by being unprepared!