Owning a business can present you with seemingly endless demands on your time and energy, many of which you likely never experienced as a W-2 employee. However, the opposite side of the coin includes your participation in events like trade shows – allowing you to network with potential customers, suppliers, and even partners while learning more about the other products and technologies offered within your industry and enjoying some well-deserved time away from the office.
If you’ve begun to consider participation in trade shows in your industry, you may be wondering where to begin and how to ensure you make the most of your experience. Read on to learn more about the importance of trade show attendance for business owners, as well as some concrete steps you can take to appeal to your potential customers and make the most of your trade show experience.
What benefits can be realized by attending a trade show?
Trade shows are invaluable networking events, and their focus on a target industry or niche can allow you to introduce yourself to a large number of people, almost all of whom have some connection to a part of your business. Trade shows can also help you:
- Stay current and up-to-date on new products and technologies before they hit the market;
- Sell products; and
- Encourage potential consumers to sign up for email updates, coupons, or other products (providing you with a ready-made distribution list in the process).
How can you make the most of your first trade show experience?
There are a few steps you can take to ensure your trade show experience is a positive one, helping you generate business leads while getting your name out to the public.
- Create a product or service narrative
The key to trade show success lies in ensuring your display is both eye-catching and provides some information about what your business does (and provides). However, simply fanning out some informational brochures won’t always be enough to connect with your fellow trade show participants.
Instead, you’ll need to tap into the human side of your business by posting customer testimonials, creating some simple visual diagrams of your processes, or creating a bright photo collage of your products in action. Using an easel and whiteboard as part of your display can provide you with some extra space to start a dialogue with customers.
- Offer samples or demonstrations
While wandering through a grocery store or bulk retailer, you may find yourself drawn in by delicious food samples or demonstrations of high-tech cleaning products. Trade show visitors are no different, and by offering pre-scheduled demonstrations or free samples of your own wares, you should be able to significantly increase your foot traffic at a minimal extra cost.
If you do opt to offer samples, be sure to include a branded (and non-disposable) item with each so those who have taken and enjoyed your samples will be able to remember your business’s name and contact information.
- Design an aesthetically-pleasing booth
When designing your booth, you’ll want to pay attention to your use of color. A muted or primarily beige booth can fade into the background, while bright primary colors can cause passersby to do a double take. Using your company’s colors in as many places as possible can help you maintain a consistent look and branding.
You’ll also want to ensure your company name is as conspicuous as possible, ideally in several different locations around your booth so it can be seen from multiple angles. Investing in a removable wall decal, customized table coverings, or even painting foam craft letters in your company’s colors can ensure you’re able to get your name out to the public.
Placing a sign in a highly-trafficked corner of your booth indicating that you accept credit and debit card payments can also help draw in customers who might otherwise have passed you by.
- Develop easy payment options
Whether you’re already utilizing an electronic point of sale (POS) system within your business or are still operating with a traditional cash register, you’ll want to invest in a more portable form of payment processing before you set out on the road.
The Clover Mini POS system is perfect for travel use, including trade shows; rather than fumbling with old-fashioned credit card processing systems (or worse, offering personal checks), your customers will be able to purchase from among your product selection with the swipe of a card and a quick finger signature. You’ll be able to run reports on your total sales to ensure your inventory numbers remain consistent and can even provide your customers with an emailed receipt, allowing you to serve more customers in a shorter period of time.
The Clover Mini can be the ideal option both for current Clover POS users and those who are considering a change from their existing payment processing vendor. Clover’s convenient and user-friendly interface can make it the perfect trade show companion.