Tradeshows and exhibitions can be a stressful time for many businesses, after all you’re putting your company and products on display to the wider world. Does the stand look nice? Is your team dressed to impress? Have you paid too much to attend the show?
Thousands of different thoughts can race through the minds of business owners, however without breaking the bank or your sanity – there’s lots of different ways you can improve your next exhibition event or tradeshow with ease.
Obviously, it goes without saying, any successful tradeshow event will have been planned and researched months in advance. You should always research the event before you decide to commit. This means visiting the show and seeing if your target audience are attending.
Remember planning and preparing for a tradeshow can easily take 12 months or more. For some businesses it can be as high as 18 months – that’s a year and a half. Don’t think you’ll simply be ready for a major event within a few weeks, that’s a huge mistake many businesses make.
Including in the planning stage you should remember to define all objectives and goals, are you looking to increase product sales? Generate wider brand awareness? Launch a new product and so on.
You should always share your goals with your staff who are attending the event. Remember they can’t achieve your goals if they don’t know what they are! Equally for whatever reason should they perform poorly, they can’t have a reason for not knowing what was expected of them.
Send e-mail reminders or social media posts to your customers and strong prospects before the show, urging them to stop by your booth.
Unfortunately, your potential customers won’t be the only people attending the tradeshow, your competitors must likely will as well. Brief your team on common tradeshow espionage practices and how to defend against them.
In addition to this, you should always have enough staff to cover the event, remember you can easily get busy times where you may be over run with customers. Don’t forget your staff are human, they will need toilet breaks, food breaks and so on, so having enough people is always a good idea.
Once you know how many staff you’re going to take, remember to give each person a certain role, there’s nothing worse than people getting in the way of each other, or unsure about what they’re meant to be doing.
If you’re planning to take orders or sales at an event, make sure your team are fully trained in the systems and technology you plan to use. Staff which are inefficient will make your business look unprofessional and you may even end up losing sales.
If you’re demonstrating new products at the event, you’ll need to think about security, after all you don’t want an item being stolen. Many businesses think this could never happen, unfortunately it happens quite a lot – particularly if your product is new into the market or has ground-breaking features.
For most businesses, it’s a good idea to take members of your team which are enthusiastic, friendly and approachable. Equally you should also have one or two which have excellent technical knowledge of your product if required. These may not be your most senior people: make your choices based on effectiveness, not seniority.
Remember product demonstrations are a superb way to draw a crowd at these types of events. Make sure your team knows how to give an effective, engaging presentation by having them practice before the show.
Speaking of practice, ask questions to your staff members before you attend, this could be anything potential customers may ask – such as what’s the pricing terms, what’s the delivery time, what’s the warranty period and so on.
Establish a dress code for your team, this doesn’t mean they need to wear suits if the event doesn’t warrant it. Having a polo t-shirt with your logo looks quite smart in a lot of situations. Remember look professional and act as ambassadors for your company.
Bring along a few products which help with person hygiene, breath mints, floss for teeth, deodorant, miniature toothbrush and so on. There’s nothing worse than a sales professional who’s just had his or her dinner and the customers can smell exactly what they’ve had.
Equally, speaking of personal hygiene don’t forget the shoes and hair too, people notice the smaller details as well as large ones.
Always say “Thank You” to attendees for stopping by your stand, to anyone who fills out their information, participates in a demonstration or purchases an item from you.
If you’re a manager and don’t run the entire business, get your top-level managers involved in the planning process, if possible. This will create a good atmosphere for the rest of your team as they know the upper management are supporting their efforts.
You know that exhibitor’s manual which the show organizers sent you when you registered for the event? You need to read it before attending, it’s full of valuable information and procedures.
It can be a good idea to designate a ‘go-to’ person to act as a liaison with show management, normally this will be the most senior person at your stand. The better your relationship with management is, the better your show experience will be.
After the event has finished you may need to follow up on leads and contacts. That means you need to establish a follow up protocol. For some customers you may want to telephone, for others you may be able to visit in person and so on. When at the event, try and get your customers preferred method of contact.