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Trade Show 101 (Part II): Tips for Success

Jaclyn is back this week with more valuable tips for exhibiting at trade shows. You can read part one here. Thanks Jaclyn!

Hi Ladies! I'm back this week to share more about exhibiting at your first trade show. In my last post we discussed preparing for the show and making sure it's the right fit for your business. This week we’ll build upon that discussion and talk about preparation and tips for success.

There are lots of things to do and consider before ever stepping foot onto the exhibition floor. Once you’ve confirmed your stand you now need to start working and preparing for all the expected (and unexpected!) challenges that will come your way. In this post I’ve broken these steps into three categories: Before the Show, During The Show and After the Show – let’s take a look...

Before the show
Depending on when the trade show takes place, you’ve most likely got a few months up your sleeve to get ready. Now is the time to fill up your inventory and ensure details such as cost, minimum order quantities, payment terms and shipping details are finalised. You’ll also want to take care of simple tasks like getting brochures and business cards printed.

Talk to the show organiser to fully understand what is required from you. What forms need to be completed? When is your advertising material due? How to order furniture? When is move-in? Don’t wait until the last minute and please, please read through all the show material.

Find out what opportunities might exist for new exhibitors and capitalise on those – it never hurts to ask. 

Far too often I have spoken to frantic new exhibitors that didn’t read information, only to find out too late that opportunities were missed.
Although the show itself will undergo a large marketing campaign, it is imperative you strongly promote your participation to your own database and the potential customers you want attract. Send out newsletters or personal invitations, blog about it, tweet about it, put the show date and your stand number on your website – do everything in your power to make your presence known.

What is your stand going to look like? Don’t wait until you show up to decide how to merchandise your stand. Of course it’s important to be flexible and ready to make last minute adjustments, but set up the stand first at home, take photos and use these as tools during move-in, it will make life so much easier. Lastly remember to set goals for yourself. Ask yourself what you want to achieve but make sure these are realistic and measurable keeping in mind that trade shows are more than just about making sales.

During the show
Okay, breath a sigh of relief, you’ve made it. Now it’s show time. What happens next? Well, for most new exhibitors panic sets in. Please remember your goals and that normally a show lasts from three to five days so if buyers aren’t flocking to your stand in the first hour, it’s okay, don’t panic. I always explain to new exhibitors that while thousands of buyers attend, not everyone will walk by your stand, and that’s okay.

Not all buyers will want to sell your product or fit your target market, so relax and remember that traffic flow will vary throughout the day. 

It has also been my personal experience with new exhibitors that buyers, although always interested in new companies, are sometimes unsure about forming a relationship with a new client. They want to ensure you’ll be around for a few years, so don’t give up but remember this is an investment and can sometimes take a while. Instilling confidence in your buyer will help solidify a long relationship.

There are a few points I want to address that seem common sense, but time after time I see them forgotten by exhibitors. Let’s review…

  • Dress appropriately
  • Don’t eat on the stand
  • Ask questions. Lots of questions
  • Truly listen to your customers, their answers will tell you a lot.
  • Keep track of names and details – build your database
  • Smile, you never know who is going to walk onto your stand

Each night organize paperwork and file away important details so that when you are back in the office this information is ready to be processed and you can hit the ground running.

After the show
The show will end and you will be exhausted, that much I can promise.

Unfortunately your work is just beginning because you still have one more step to complete: the follow up.
I can’t express the importance of follow up and am shocked at how few exhibitors do it. You must keep the momentum going because orders will come in, you just have to follow up. Gather and organize all the material you collected at the show, tweet and blog thank-you posts letting visitors know it was great to see them, update your website to showcase products that were well received, send an email to your database, make personal phone calls – whatever method you choose, just do it. You won’t regret it. Lastly, make sure you enjoy and learn from this new experience, your business will be better for it.
Well folks, that’s it from me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and feel inspired to take the next step for your business. I will leave you with some parting trade show words of wisdom that I’ve learned over the years – if you remember just one thing, it’s wear comfortable shoes!
Many thanks Jaclyn for your generous advice! If you have any more questions regarding trade show applications or setup, feel free to contact Jaclyn on Twitter or through her blog.

All images are courtesy of Reed Exhibitions.
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Posted by: Tess McCabe
Categories: Advice and Tips, Starting a Business | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Trade Show 101 (Part II): Tips for Success

  1. Irene aka Minzy says:

    Awesome post! Insight information! Thanks Jaclyn and Tess x

  2. Pingback: Scenes from Sydney , Regular Columns