Luckily here in Shanghai, we’re always in the midst of trade show season where companies from many different industries visit to promote their offerings and looking to drive future business.
Trade shows, even though expensive, are a great opportunity for showcasing yourself to a huge array of new potentials. Hotels are filled to the brim with after work social activities with many bonding over nibbles and free bar get togethers. It’s organized networking and also a lot of fun to be a part of. As well as the establishments that hold these events, you too can see a healthy return on investment.
Company brands know they need to play the the long game. Here are some tips for ensuring that your money is well spent. Also some practical ways that your company can lay the groundwork for a future return on your investment in your next trade show.
Don’t Wing It
“Let’s just show up and work the floor” is the wrong attitude for trade shows. Your booth might be slick. The round neck shirts with your logo might look great on your reps too. But being the “fancy” stand isn’t enough. Plan and preparation for trade shows several months in advance, ensure your sales and marketing teams collaborating to connect in achieving specific goals, set realistic objectives within achievable timescales. Early on, any other plans should be discussed and implemented early in order to have a successful trade show season.
Map It Out
The event itself is important. So too though are the pre- and post-show prospecting plans. Using your marketing team’s expertise to create awareness of who you are among other things, this will help effectively people traffic to your booth. You don’t have to limit your outreach to an email campaign; work it via LinkedIn, Wexin, Weibo. If you have the luxury of an outbound team, a calling campaign also whould be extremely beneficial. Do your best to attain an attendee list before the show, there should be one from the previous year. There’s a good chance you will see many returning year on year to the best events.
Keep Things Simple
Attendees are undoubtedly overwhelmed when walking through the show, so many sights and sounds appealing to their senses. Your approach should be the compelling calm in the eye of the trade show storm.
Identify your target audience and develop a clear, straightforward yet engaging message for all to appreciate. Compare the short time in the booth to a cold call, during which you only have a few precious seconds to gain a new prospect’s trust and time. Booth jumping is what it’s all about at trade shows, time is limited and conversations have to be quick and precise. If you miss an opportunity with an unfocused message, attendees will come and go like the tide. Both your booth design and your script should tell your story in a concise, structured story like manner. Be careful with your time. It’s great to chat and build rapport, however ineffective and wasted time spent with someone you may enjoy chatting to may result in real potential customers coming and going as they are unable to wait for your conversation to finish. They may need your help more than the person you are currently talking to. Acknowledge them at least even if you are mid conversation and arrange a time for them to return if you have to. Keep all conversations short and precise.
Planning Your Booth
It pays to take time thoughtfully planning your booth design. There are many ways to achieve this with varying budgets. Booths range from lower-end pop-up fiberglass mounts to more complex aluminum frames that take longer to set up.
Don’t pounce on people and hover over them when they come. Expect a steady flow throughout the day, sometimes in waves. At times you may only get a handful of people at your booth. Just keep looking busy and remember, don’t pounce. Often people run away. Let them come in and wait for them to make eye contact before engaging them. Smile and let them browse your stand and offering, this will give them time to become more comfortable.
Make sure you have a follow up in place. A post show strategy. Attendees will have spoken to many people at various booths, and they will surely be reached out to by many of the companies afterwards. Including your own. If possible then try and stand out at the trade show with a useful inexpensive but practical giveaway which you can then give reference to when you contact them — “I hope you are enjoying your new coffee mug” etc.
It’s always good to keep a track also for your own records. Mark down the leads and essential potentials into your CRM. This way, you can relax and rest assured that your sales pipeline is growing and tidy.
Whilst at the show, be sure and enjoy meeting everyone at the other stalls also when you have time. Perhaps even share some cards. Good luck!
We at Ultimahub wish you a very happy, healthy trade show season!