Trade shows are an exciting and important part of our industry. There is nothing like the rush of meeting face-to-face with a flood of customers and showcasing your products in-person for the very first time. However, they can come with a hefty price tag and daunting checklists. Designing booths months in advance, refining sales pitches and delivering perfect marketing plans tailored from numerous rough drafts can be intimidating. One might say they’re the Super Bowl of our industry.
To challenge this seemingly overwhelming project, Gina Tomaszewsk from Peerless-AV, Tony Couzelis from Sound Control Technologies and trade show expert, Barbara Goldstein, combined their expertise in a recent LAVNCH & LEARN. Together, they shared the best practices for trade show management. These professionals have years of exhibiting experience and have overcome every challenge imaginable. Here is a short recap of their top tips to make exhibiting a more meaningful experience for your company.
- Spark curiosity. Just like an attention-grabbing trailer gets people to the movies, the work done before the show starts to make your presence known will bring people to your booth. People are persuaded by their curiosity to learn more. Product sneak peeks, social media teasers, sizzle reels, etc. can get eyes and ears on your products before the show even begins.
- Fight Invisibility. For new exhibitors, it may feel like you’re a small fish in a big sea, but there are inexpensive ways to make yourself stand out. Have your booth staff wear bright colors, give away useful swag like power banks or tote bags, or lure attendees in with the smell of fresh baked cookies – I know I would be tempted. Finally, if the show provides special offers for new exhibitors, take advantage of them. It could be the kickstart you need.
- Budget. Set expectations but be adaptable. You may never know what will arise the day of the show but with proper planning, you can plan for (almost) every expense ahead of time. The best way to get ahead of unexpected fees is taking advantage of checklists and early bird deals offered by the show and reading through the list of show rules. Don’t waste your money on a fancy popcorn machine just to find out popcorn isn’t allowed on the show floor!
- Don’t wing it on the show floor. That running to-do list in our heads isn’t always the most reliable. So, don’t leave it up to chance for people to stop by your booth. Guarantee you’re on their calendar by scheduling appointments with customers or prospects ahead of showtime. You’ve put too much time and effort into getting here, it’s important to continue with that momentum. Same goes with your booth staff. Set specific goals for your staff to accomplish each day. Whether it’s to talk to five or 50 new people that day, goals equal results.
- Don’t leave anyone hanging. Capturing as many leads as possible is extremely important, but your efforts after the show are the most important. Follow up right away and with intent. If you made a personal relationship with someone visiting your booth, follow up with specific details from your conversation. A small act can go a long way to differentiate yourself among all the other exhibitors.
While exhibiting is exciting and fun, don’t forget what you’re there for. Capturing leads is the first step, but establishing trust among your customer base is why trade shows are so important in our industry. Don’t let all of your efforts and dollars be spent only to fail at continuing those conversations and connections. “One good opportunity could pay for a whole show,” said Tony.
Overall, trade shows are an amazing avenue for establishing your brand in the industry and building lasting customer relationships. So, if you’re new to exhibiting, don’t shy away! There are plenty of ways to set yourself apart from the competition without having to break the bank. “There’s no true right or wrong way to do everything, it’s finding what works for you,” says Gina. So, stay true to your brand, get creative, and most of all, have fun!
These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg for trade show insight. You can watch the full Best Practices for Trade Show Management LAVNCH & LEARN event on-demand to learn more.