Exhibiting at a trade show can be a challenge if you’re new to the game. How do you stop your stall paling into the background whilst your competitors shine?
Understandably, exhibiting requires time and money. It’s a decision that needs a lot of thought and preparation, because if you rock up to a trade show unprepared, you could do your company more damage than good.
You need to have enough funds to cover travel costs, attendance and an attractive setup. Nobody will pay any attention to the person in a corner with no information readily available to glance at when passing. It is vital that you have a couple of tables with clean, dark colored table cloths. Having a set of detailed roller banner stands with high quality graphics is key to catching the eye of potential customers, as well as for staking your territory…It’s quite amazing how politely neighboring stalls can expand into your space! A few desk lamps are a neat trick, as the twinkly lights can be extremely attention grabbing.
Figure out if you or your staff have the time required to do a trade show, taking into account travel, the day itself, research and follow up. It’s a lot of work, which can almost certainly help your business if it’s done properly and with dedication. After the event it is vital to keep those connections that you made at the show warm by making phone calls and inviting people out for drinks.
To really do well at trade shows, you need to make friends. Before the show get in contact with the organisers and find out as much as you can. Promote the whole trade show for brownie points, rather than just your presence there, and get in touch with other companies exhibiting or just attending. Find out who your neighbors will be, and who are the main people you want to attract. It’s even worth scheduling a few meetings throughout the day with those you specifically want to attract, as this will show professionalism. By making connections prior to the show, affirming them at the event, then following them up afterwards, you make warm relationships rather than business card driven contacts.
Dressing the part is as important as having a well put together display set. Leave your dinghy shirts at home and make sure you are looking crisp, fresh and professional. Girls go easy on the makeup, and guys go easy on the aftershave, as a smile and a strong handshake will do a lot of the groundwork. it doesn’t have to be a whole three piece suit or a pair of heels as high as the heavens, but smart casual has a habit of slacking, so make sure anything you decide to wear is clean, ironed and simple.
The reality of the trade show is that it can very easily go both ways, but as a rule, if you try to have a bit of fun and make a few friends, you will do just fine.