Trade shows and vendor shows are a great marketing tool for both B2C and B2B companies, because they offer a unique form of contact with prospects and customers.
“51% of exhibitors said they value face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers, and 47% said they value the ability to meet with a variety of players face to face, such as customers, suppliers, resellers, etc.” – Trade Show News Network
Why do trade and vendor shows?
The top 3 goals for exhibitors at trade shows are (1) brand awareness, (2) lead generation, and (3) relationship building. These can be accomplished successfully through planning ahead what your strategy be will for your trade show presence. What are some things you should do to prepare for your next trade show so you get the return you are looking for?
Exhibitor or Trade Show Tips
Here are some tips on how to prepare for your company’s next trade show or exhibitor or vendor show.
1. Determine your goals first. What do you want to achieve in your participation at the show? Do you want more leads? Do you want to increase your brand awareness so more people know who you are and what you do? Do you want to build on existing relationships so you can turn leads into customers, or colleagues into vendors, or qualified, skilled people into staff or subcontractors?
- If you want more leads, have a drawing where you collect business cards or contact information on those visiting your booth or table. Make them aware that that will be contacted whether they are selected as a winner or not, that way they can develop the lead into a first visit or a sales call.
- If you are looking for brand awareness, make sure you have giveaways or promotional items that will be retained by the customer with your logo and your URL on it. Handing out business cards, fliers, brochures or booklets along with the promotional items are a good strategy to provide a first introduction to your products or services.
- If you are looking to build relationships, you and your staff should be smiling, friendly and approachable. Engage booth visitors in conversation without directly selling to them by showing interest in them before introducing your company’s services. A video presentation can help break the ice if you need some help.
2. Decide which Show to participate in. Do research on local shows and who the attendees are, where they come from and what they are expecting. If you are B2C company, then make sure you are at a show that you can sell products at, as some restrict on-site transactions. Find out who will be attending so you can reach your target audience.
3. Register early so you can book the best location. The front of the arena, the aisle ends and anywhere near registration booth are great locations that have the best visibility. Request you be spaced apart from competitors.
4. Design your booth or table to attract attention. The initial cost of booth displays, table covers, and signs will be worth the investment. Use bright colors, professional printed displays and decorations that make your space inviting, eye-catching and compliment your brand and your industry.
5. Make a lasting impression. Providing giveaways is the best way to ensure booth visitors. Invest in desirable promotional items such as travel mugs, thumb drives, tee shirts, folders, notepads, and exhibitor bags with your logo and URL on them. Make sure that the promotional products that you choose are useful to the consumer to ensure that they are kept for long periods of time.
- Be hospitable by providing snacks & drinks. Show attendees get tired and hungry when walking around, so provide comfortable seating, cold water bottles with your logo on it, and a prepackaged snack to hand out. The consideration will be appreciated.
- Offer a contest or promotion. Have a drawing for a valued prize that will entice visitors to enter their business card or contact information.
6. Follow-up. After the show, send out an email to your booth visitors, thank them for their visit and provide either a coupon or discount towards your product or service. Once the winner of your contest is selected, announce the winner on your website or social media. Call the most promising leads and schedule either a visit or a better time to talk.