Tradeshows are a wonderful opportunity for a number of purposes. They can be used for promotion, to launch new products, make sales, or to learn about your industry and competitors. But, they can also be expensive in time and money, so it’s imperative that you get the most out of your investment.
Here are ten tips for maximizing your tradeshow experience:
1. GO TO THE RIGHT SHOW
There are too many trade shows to count and you can’t go to them all. Do your due diligence and research what’s out there. You need to find a show whose objectives align with yours.
Also consider the size of the show relative to the size of your company. If you don’t have a huge presence you’re going to get lost in the hubbub of a monster show. Find a venue that gives you an opportunity to stand out.
2. BOOK EARLY
The best spots get taken almost immediately. Wait too long and you’ll be relegated to a low traffic location. Also, many shows offer substantial discounts for early booking. Book at least a month in advance if possible. Plus, it gives you more time to advertise the event.
3. TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE GOING
Use your email lists and social media channels to let your followers (customers, prospects, and peers) know about upcoming shows you will be appearing at.
Not only will this influence some of them to also attend and check out your booth, but it lets everyone see that you are an active member of your industry.
4. DON’T HARD SELL, EDUCATE
Deals are sometimes struck at trade shows, but they aren’t the place for high pressure sales tactics. This situation is the very opposite of having a captive audience. If you turn off a visitor they have dozens of other places they can go just paces away.
Besides, this is a golden opportunity to lay the groundwork for later sales by providing valuable information. Put your experts on display and let attendees pick their brains.
5. GIVE YOUR VISITORS SOMETHING SPECIAL
Attendees could have stayed home and read up on your offering on your website. Make their trip worthwhile by showing them something you’ve kept under wraps thus far, or demo something that has to be experienced in person to really understand.
6. USE SIMPLE, BOLD VISUALS
A trade show booth is sort of like a billboard. It needs to get its message across quickly. Just like cars zipping down the turnpike, attendees will be streaming past displays all day, and the majority of people won’t stop unless something really catches their attention.
Use heavy contrasts in your graphics, don’t overload the informational segments, and perhaps most importantly, make certain your name and logo are extremely prominent!
7. BE CREATIVE WITH YOUR SWAG
Just slapping a logo on a pen is pretty low effort. T-shirts and pens and the like still have their place in the world of swag, but you should also have something more creative in store for attendees. The best swag is unique and inventive and ties nicely into your brand message.
If your budget is tight consider holding a game or competition with one big prize.
8. GET INTERACTIVE
Thanks to technologies like ubiquitous smartphones and tablets it’s easier than ever to give booth visitors something they can actually touch and play with, which makes the experience more memorable.
Newer tech like augmented and virtual reality are also useful for creating activations that go beyond static graphics. Bluetooth beacons haven’t really caught on yet, but show great potential for helping attendees find and interact with you on a crowded floor.
9. WATCH THE COMPETITION
This one works two ways. For one, trade shows are the place to see what other players in your industry have been working on. If they are smart, they are also unveiling some of their top secret projects for the first time.
But, bear in mind, they are watching you too! Trade shows are also notorious for the potential for corporate espionage. Make sure you’re keeping your own secrets under lock and key and only revealing them to true prospects— not an undercover rival.
If you followed all the previous steps, odds are you made a pretty good impression. Don’t let that good work fade away, sent appropriate follow-ups to drive home your message.
Anyone who came by and signed up should get at least an email thanking them and providing more information, and consider taking the time to send top prospects handwritten thank you notes.