Trade shows are invaluable tools for small businesses. They give you the tools to network, bring in new customers, and build your brand all under one roof. The process of getting into a trade show might seem intimidating, but we're here to help. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get to your first trade show, and hopefully many more in the future.
1. Don't Rush It
Heading to a trade show isn't something that you want to do the spur of the moment. Showing up unprepared or underprepared is a quick path to failure. Spent plenty of time planning before you even book your booth so you and your team know exactly what you're going to say and do at your trade show booth, and what you expect to get from this event. Are you trying to create awareness for your brand, or bring in new customers, or figure out what your competition is up to? Whatever you're hoping to do, start planning months ahead of time, so you're prepared for any contingency.
2. Practice Your Pitches
You're going to spend a lot of time talking to people during a trade show — potential customers that come to your booth, job seekers trying to network, and competitors who want to see what you're doing right. Spent some time practicing your pitches for each of these audiences, so you present a strong front. Stumbling over your words doesn't evoke confidence and might chase away potential customers. Have your team — even those that aren't going to the trade show — come up with questions that someone might ask so you're ready for anything.
3. Book Your Booth
Now that you're prepared for the trade show, your next step is to book your booth. The exact process will vary depending on the show you're attending, but there are a few things that you can take into consideration for every single trade show, including:
- Headcount — How many people are going to be in the booth? You want to make sure that you've got enough room for your team, but for visitors to move around freely.
- Square Footage — How much space will you have to work with in your booth?
- Equipment — Do you have all the stuff you'll need to showcase your brand and complete your presentations, or do you need to rent some before the event?
- Location — Are there plenty of places for visitors to stay while they're checking out your presentation? What about nightlife, food, and other areas that people might want to visit.
Your work isn't done once you've booked the booth though. You've still got a couple of steps left.
4. Boost It On Social Media
Take advantage of all that time you've spent building a social media presence and boost your trade show plans on all of your social media platforms. Start by finding out what the show's official hashtags are and incorporate them into your posts. Let your followers know when you're going to be there and where, exactly, you're going to be inside the show.
5. Bring Swag
Finally, the best thing you can do is to bring swag to your booth. People love free stuff, and if you've got something — pens, flash drives, post-it notes, whatever — that you can give them with your brand name and information on it, it becomes more likely that they'll both remember your brand and think of your company positively the next time they start looking for the product or service that you offer.
Enjoy The Results
After the show is over and you've recovered from this epic event, all that you have left to do is enjoy the results. Take a close look at your statistics before and after the trade show and see what sort of impact it had. If it didn't have the results that you were hoping for, take a closer look at your presentation and see where you can improve. These shows are invaluable tools for small business owners, so take advantage of them as often as you can!
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