As a startup company the path to trade show success may be clouded with the anxiety and pressure to succeed. However, the foreignness of a trade show shouldn’t thwart your desire to attend. Vast opportunities for financial gain and network connections are present. The following are 7 smart trade show tips will put you on the right path for victory.
- Plan Ahead
Trade shows are events that require meticulous planning, thought, and organization. To plan the first thing you need to do is set a reasonable budget that accounts for all related costs. The next thing you need to do is create measureable goals to prevent lackadaisical attitudes at the trade show. An example of a simple numerical goal is to increase sales on your featured product. However, one non-numerical goal that all startups should have is to develop and grow brand awareness. Lastly, sketch an outline of what your table should look like and ensure you have all of those materials beforehand and packed to take to the show.
- Get noticed
The trade show environment is an extremely competitive one, and to succeed getting noticed is key. If the trade show allows you to pick your own table, get there early, and choose the location you think will have the most foot traffic. High traffic areas will be near the entrance, main walkways, and even the trails to the bathroom. Next you need to astatically excite, try using colorful balloons, monitors, or even play some catchy music to draw people to your table. Once people are at your table they will need a reason to stay engaged. If it is within your budget, hand out swag that is relevant to your brand. If swag isn’t an option create an interactive attraction that will electrify people and create buzz about your table throughout the trade show.
- Approachability and attitude
Your table looks superb, the materials you brought are exciting and informative, but the people manning your table appear unapproachable. Think of these people as tools, which if used effectively can propel your startup to success. We get that you are nervous, but this is the time to put on your “friendly” face. To help relieve the nerves, develop a list of opening lines to attract and help you interact with anyone who comes up to your table. Questions could be thought provoking, direct, or something even more conversational to break the barrier and help you connect.
- Establish professional connections
This is an ideal time to network and make professional connections. During the event you will be overwhelmed at the number of people you talk to. A helpful trick is after you finish talking to a person take a moment to write down a summary of what you talked about and who they are on the back on their business card. After the event dedicate time to connect with each person on LinkedIn. In addition to connecting with the people who came to your table dedicate time to network with your competition at their exhibits.
- Professional materials
Having a professional trade show exhibit sends a distinct message that you intend to be a serious competitor. Companies like The Trade Group specialize in delivering a wide variety of exhibit options for any budget. The sheer size of banner stands makes them essential tools, because they are so large the eye is drawn right to them and people instantly know the name of the company and any other information displayed there. Another exhibit element that can increase the professional look of your table is tabletop displays, which vary in size and design and can really energize your exhibit.
- Using social media
Incorporating social media into your trade show affairs is a savvy way to raise brand awareness and generate sales. Before the trade show begins do some research and see if the show has an official hashtag. Let your followers know you will be at this trade show and with the hashtag let others know who you are. During the trade show post a picture of your table and entice people to check it out. Another strategy is to create your own brand relevant hashtag for the event and encourage people to take pictures at your table and share it digitally. You can motivate people by creating a promotion only those who share will get or by saying one random participant will win swag. To continue engaging customers after the trade show write down all the questions you were asked during the show and write a blog post afterwards answering those questions for all to see.
- Follow up
At the trade show you did a great job connecting with people, now you have to maintain and grow that relationship. During the event invite people to connect by leaving their email address, and after the trade show add all of the email addresses to your newsletter distribution list. In addition inspire people to connect with your business on social media. Now you have connections with all these people don’t be lazy! Email and thank them for coming to your booth, continue generating exciting social media posts, and distribute a timely newsletter.
As a startup your first few trade shows can come with a major financial learning curve. However, if you follow these 7 smart trade show tips you can efficiently display your products and optimize financial gain.