Trade shows make the perfect opportunity to show off your company to a whole new audience, who you may never have had the chance to encounter. In the world of online business and social media, it’s often a rarity to get the chance to chat with potential customers on a face to face basis, which is one of the many reasons business owners are now considering attending trade shows as part of their marketing strategy.
When carried out correctly, a trade show can be an extremely valuable and cost-effective way of reaching out to new customers, as opposed to some of your other marketing efforts.
Although it may simply feel like a fun day out from the office, attending a trade show is not an easy experience. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to make your first trade show successful, which means finding out what to do and what not to do in the lead up to the event.
Here the top do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when trading at exhibitions:
1. DO train your staff
Whether you’re new to the world of exhibiting or an expert, you should always hire and train the very best staff you can afford. A trade show is your big chance to show off your product to a large-scale audience, so your staff should have been trained properly on your company’s goals and marketing approaches, as well as the ins and outs of your product or service. After all, your staff are the face of your brand when you’re not around, so they need to give off a great impression.
2. DON’T be too forceful
One of the biggest mistakes that many exhibitors make is ‘throwing up’ on visitors as soon as they walk by their stand.
In the past, you may have experienced a pushy salesperson who made you feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t back down, despite telling them that you had no real interest in what they had to offer. Remember that feeling you had when approaching visitors at your upcoming exhibition. Although it’s important to catch their attention when they’re nearby, don’t make them feel nervous or awkward.
It’s important to always have a rough idea of what to say, but ditch the rehearsed sales pitch that you reel off to every customer and instead, concentrate on creating a more natural conversation based around the customer’s needs and interests.
Listen to their feedback 80% of the time and chat about your company for the remaining 20%. This will ensure you achieve a winning balance of making the customer feel relaxed in your presence and convincing them that they should invest in you.
3. DO hire an eye-catching stand
Most exhibitions will expect you to purchase your own exhibition walling, therefore, it’s up to you create an eye-catching stand that sets you apart from the crowd – and especially your competitors. Exhibition stands can be custom-made to suit your individual requirements, so you don’t blend in with the rest of the hall.Most exhibitions will expect you to purchase your own exhibition walling, therefore, it’s up to you create an eye-catching stand that sets you apart from the crowd – and especially your competitors. Exhibition stands can be custom-made to suit your individual requirements, so you don’t blend in with the rest of the hall.
While exhibition stands can be hired to suit smaller budgets, it would be well worth making the investment of purchasing your own re-usable stands that will last you time and time again.
4. DON’T put down the competition
You’re bound to feel a little shaken up by the competition right under your nose, but you should never put down your competitors in front of visitors. This isn’t a great tactic in convincing them to purchase from you instead, but will probably result in the opposite.
Bad-mouthing your competitors is not only unprofessional, but it’s also distasteful. Be sure to focus all of your efforts on the products and services you have to offer and try and forget about everything else in your surroundings.
5. DO get a good location
The location of your booth will greatly impact your success rates at the trade show. Realistically, you need to be near to the front of the exhibition to catch visitors when they’re enthusiastic, as well as ensuring that competitors aren’t getting in before you. Always sign up to the show as early as possible so you get the very best spot that’s within your price range.
6. DON’T book too many meetings
Although it’s good to have some plans in place, don’t go overboard with booking in pre-planned meetings with those you follow on social media etc. If you do wish to go ahead with some meetings, ask a member of your team to sit down with the customers on your behalf.
Ultimately, this is your chance to mingle with visitors you meet by chance, so it’s important that you’re around most of the time to see how the day is planning out and don’t miss any great opportunities.
7. DO be active
When on full show to the public, don’t sit down at your stand unless you have a particularly quiet period. Think of the costs and time involved in getting to the trade show and make every second count. Stand at the edge of your booth with a smile on your face and be on the lookout for potential customers.
8. DO use the visitor’s name
As soon as visitors approach your stand, always introduce yourself and ask what their name is, before moving onto the next part of the conversation. This is an effective way of grabbing their attention if they’re expecting just another sales pitch.
It will also form a better connection between yourself and the customer, which is sure to make the conversation more memorable. Do be aware not to overuse their name in every sentence though, as your pitch may come across a little forced.