by Grace Barone
Trade shows! These conventions bring a huge amount of businesses in the same industry and customers together every year. Trade shows allow businesses to showcase products and services to potential customers, competition, and complementary businesses. Going to a trade show can be a great networking opportunity for businesses. If you do it right, your businesses can walk away from a show with new connections and more money. Before heading to something like this, you should have an idea of how to go about trade show marketing. In this blog we'll go over the basics on how to do a trade show right!
Before spending the time, energy and money going to a trade show, you should think about the purpose of your business attending. Yes, they can be fun just walking around and meet people, but you should have a game plan and a list of goals you want to accomplish while you're there. The purpose of these events is to give companies a chance to market their brand, generate leads, network with other professionals in the field, and remain current on emerging trends and advancements.
If you're going to a trade show for the first time it can be a little overwhelming. Depending on which one you're going to, there might be thousands of people. Its easy to get distracted and not accomplish what you went there to do. Here are some easily attainable goals to meet while you and your team are at the show.
- Meet other Vendors.
- Boost Sales.
- Collect Emails for Mailing List.
- Hand out Business Cards.
- Generate New Leads.
If you're going with a team, have a little huddle before heading to the show and go over your goals. It might be easier to delegate tasks to each team member so nothing gets missed.
Attend the Right Show
There are a lot of different trade shows to choose from. You want to make sure you're choosing the right one. You don't want to go to one where your products and services don't fit. Go to one that's either for your specific industry, will have your ideal customers attending, or is complementary to your business. Think about which show will generate the most leads or give you the most networking opportunities. If your industry is super saturated, choosing to go to one that complements your business may give you better results. You should also plan to go to trade shows around the time of new product launches. 92% of tradeshow attendees say their main reason for attending tradeshows is to see new products being featured.
For example, VMS is going to The National Restaurant Association show this year. Our company is obviously not a restaurant, but we sell POS systems that can be very beneficial to restaurants. We also just came out with the new Clover Kiosk, which is made specifically for restaurants. Our main goals for going, is to showcase our new product and generate new leads with potential restaurants. Seeking out shows like these is a great idea. Not only will a payment processor stand out among all the different restaurants, but its also showcasing new products to ideal customers. Every business needs to be able to accept all forms of payment. 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies. So choosing the right one can give your business a serious boost.
Get the Right Trade Show Marketing Materials
Marketing your business correctly at the trade show should be at the top of your priority list. To do this, you want to create a strong marketing strategy. If you already have your goals set up and you've chosen the right trade show to go to, you're already on the right track. The next step is to get together your trade show marketing materials. You want to be prepared. Remember no one plans to fail, we just fail to plan. Have a check list of everything you're bringing and do not wait until the day before to start getting everything together. Here are some staple items you should be bringing to a trade show.
- Business Cards
- Free Merch
- Posters or Boards the Display your Company, your Products and your Message
- Products you want to Display and Demonstrate
- Leaflets or Brochures
- Ways that People can Connect with you and your Business
These are just the basics that you should bring. You may also need a table or two, lighting, matching attire for your team, outlets. You want to make your booth stand out from the rest. Having one plain table with brochures on it will not cut it. Here's a great case study that goes into how one business doubled their booth traffic and increased qualified trade show leads by 400 percent. It goes over how they transformed their booth and came up with innovative ways to showcase their products.
While You're at the Show
Trade shows are supposed to be fun. Yes, you're going there for a purpose but remember to relax, be friendly and have fun. Make sure you're talking to as many people as you can, and connecting with all the different attendees.
Trade shows are the easiest way to network. All of your industry peers will be there. If you're a new business owner or a seasoned one, you want to make connections with other fellow business owners. Making friends can be beneficial to both parties. Learn things from each other and link up with complementary business owners. Here are some ways to get the most out of your networking efforts;
1. Research other Attendees
Take some time to research who will be going to the show. Especially the businesses that you are most interested in making contact with. Figure out who the main players are, and who you should approach. Also, see if any one you want to meet is going to participate in any special events at the show. Sometimes there will be presentations or demonstrations to attend. If you figure out who will be attending and plan on going as well, it's a great way to make sure you'll run into them during all the commotion of the show.
2. Focus on Social Media
We live in a world where social media is everything. While meeting people, follow or add their social media profiles. This is a very easy way to make sure you have some way of getting back in touch with them after the show. Adding each other on social media doubles the chances of them remembering you and also gives an opportunity to help market each other on social media in the future. Another tip for this is having a QR code on your business card that takes people right to your social media profile. This can be much easier than typing in usernames.
3. Set Enough Time Aside
Again, trade shows can become very overwhelming. It's not uncommon to have the idea in your head of visiting the entire show and ending up not having enough time to network. You may run into issues, or unexpected tasks that end up keeping you stuck at your booth. This is why going with a team, having a game plan, and delegating tasks is important while you're planning everything. Pre-schedule your activities, meal times and transportation time so you have enough time to walk around and network. If you're not the best at planning and staying organized, here's a great blog about how to successfully manage trade shows.
4. Listen and Break out of Your Typical Network Pool
Successful networking at trade shows happens when you're friendly and not overbearing or intrusive. At the booths, people tend to have a more aggressive business mentality. There may be more opportunities to build connections in a more relaxed setting like activities organized by the trade show like conferences or meal times. Keep an open mindset and be prepared to listen and ask questions. When you display genuine interest in them, they will show more interested in you. Get out of your shell and talk to people you may not typically talk to.
5. Don't Forget about your Competition
Making new connections and potential business partners is important, yes. But, also make sure to scope out your competition. Check out what they are doing and see if you're up to par with your direct competition. Get as much information as possible from their booths and see what areas you may be lacking in and what your business can improve on to surpass the competition. See what products they're offering, how they're marketing themselves and how they have their booth set up. You can learn a lot from your competition, especially if your business is new. Walking around and visiting competition can be a great task to delegate to one of your team members.
After the Show
After the show, you're left with a lot of information. Post-show can feel just as overwhelming than pre-show because now you need to make sure you're securing all the leads and following up with everyone you've networked with. Following up is a crucial part of trade show marketing. If you did all that work at the show and then just hope that people that you talked to will contact you after, a lot of that effort you just put into it can get wasted.
Do not let post-show efforts fall to the bottom of your priority list. Reaching out through social media to people you connected with for networking purposes can wait a little longer than potential leads. A few days after the trade show ends, send an email to all the new contacts you gained. This is why creating an email list at the show is important. Express that it was nice to meet them and if you can remember, include something you discussed with them. This will help them remember your business and the reason they connected with you. You may think you gave a good enough sales pitch or product demo that you don't need to follow up. But this is not the way you should be thinking, following up should definitely be a part of your trade show marketing strategy. Here's another great blog that give 10 tips for following up after a trade show.
Setting your Business up for a Trade Show
Every trade show is different, some are just for network and potential lead generation. Others give opportunities to sell products right there at the show. If your business is trying to figure out a way to accept payments at a trade show, visit us at getvms.com. We offer a variety of mobile POS systems that will allow your business to accept payments no matter where you are. Having a POS system that allows you to take all forms of payments at a trade show can be a great tool and will set you apart from businesses only accepting cash. If you're going to a trade show soon, have fun and good luck!