There comes a point in the life of your business where you need to spread the word. You need to become more involved in your niche, draw in new custom, and potentially even strike up business-to-business connections. There are a thousand and one different ways you can do this, of course – but perhaps the most effective is exhibiting at a trade show.
Trade shows give you access to a huge number of people, all of whom are interested in the same niche that you are. It’s going to give your business visibility that you will only have been able to dream of in the past, while also giving you a chance to make an impression as part of the business community.
Given the huge benefits to be had from exhibiting at a show, it’s worth thinking about the strategy you’re going to use to take advantage. Below, there’s an assembled list of the things you should definitely do to make the most of your trade show experience, along with the necessary list of don’ts. If you follow this advice, then your exhibition should go off without a hitch…
DO: Boast Your Credentials
People in the world of marketing don’t much like claims. Claims are useful at times, but for the most part, they focus on results. That means that wherever you fall in the marketing niche, you’re going to need to take along evidence that your business is as good as you claim it to be.
That might mean having to hand a tablet so you can show analytics data or taking along honest testimonies from people who have worked with you. However you do it, keep it simple, proffer your credentials when asked, and you should be able to ensure everyone you engage with is confident of your authenticity.
DON’T: Forget Your Finances
It’s important you don’t blow your entire budget prior to the show; you’re going to need some cash left over for the day(s) itself.
You might have heard the tip of taking along free gifts to a trade show. It’s a good tactic, bringing people to your area naturally – everyone likes a free muffin or a cup of coffee. With any luck, they will linger and learn more about your business.
That’s a good thing, but it’s less good if you suddenly run out – especially if you have been advertising your stand as the place to grab a free coffee. That’s just going to look bad and reflect poorly on your organizational skills; it could force you into a situation where you only choice for extra supplies is to head to the pay day loan industry so you have got some cash to see you through. To avoid this, always keep 10% of your budget for the show back to be used when you’re actually there.
DO: Visit Other Stalls and Exhibitions
If you’re busy running your own stall, then it’s more than possible that you will be so immersed in the day that you stay there for the duration of the event. To an extent, that makes sense; people like to be able to talk to the boss, after all.
However, you’re missing out on a fantastic networking opportunity. You’re going to need to be visible to others, so take the time to visit other exhibitions and see what they’re doing. Be open and engaging; you never know who you might run into. It’s also a good idea to keep a stack of business cards in your wallet, so you’re ready to promote yourself and your business at a moment’s notice.
DON’T: Be Forceful
The single biggest mistake you can make at a trade show is to be too forceful; too pushy; too keen to make a connection or a sale. Visitors will be able to smell your desperation a mile off, and it’s not something they’re going to want to become involved with. While you might be keen for the show to signal a huge success for your business, you have to try and play it cool. Be engaging and friendly, but never go so far down that road that people begin to feel like the victims of a hard sell.
Getting a trade show right is not something you’re necessarily going to be able to do the first time you try. It’s useful to attend a few shows as a visitor to begin with, so you can get an idea of the vibe and how they tend to work. When you’re confident you can follow the rules above and you’ve learned from your own observations, you’re good to go. Enjoy it; trade shows can be hugely beneficial, and could be able to provide the boost that your business needs.