13 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows

Posted on August 26, 2016

Before you hit the road to attend your next event, remember this advice.

1. Make sure you attend the right one. First, spend some time checking out the trade show’s website. What companies are going to be there? Will there be any potential affiliates? Cross-reference your list of potential affiliates with the list of attendees. Will you find the vendors that you are looking for?

2. Register in advance. Shows have different policies and pricing structures; you may be able to save money by registering early. Some shows are only for the trade.  Some vendors may have extra passes depending upon what your spending with them. If you call ahead of time, you may be able to schedule an appointment with a company or affiliate that is attending the show.

3. Stay at the hotel associated with the event. It’s usually more expensive, but most of the vendors and attendees will be staying there because it’s convenient. And after the day’s events, they’ll all be meeting in the lounge for a cocktail.

4. Make a plan. The worst way to go to a trade show is unprepared. You need a goal and objectives! So arrive early and get your hands on a map, the shows app and a directory. Then map out which booths you are going to hit and in what order, because trade shows are massive, and you can’t afford to needlessly tire yourself out. Start walking the floor as soon as possible. Vendors are eager to make sales immediately. Once you’ve visited the companies or affiliates on your list, feel free to walk the floor at your leisure. Walk with others who can introduce you to their contacts. (Warm intro’s – leads)

marketing materials for trade shows

Trade Show Marketing Materials

5. Dress the part. People will take you more seriously if you dress appropriately. If the trade show was about sporting equipment and fitness, you don’t need a suit. For other industries, a sport coat is more appropriate. Don’t be that guy or girl that ends up on a FaceBook post for looking out of place.

6. Bring two pairs of comfortable shoes and wear them on alternate days. Like I said, walking the floor will exhaust you.

7. Bring business cards and your rack cards with you everywhere. You could meet an important contact anywhere – like the lobby, at the bar, or even riding the elevator. You never know, so be prepared. Also know your pitch (Elevator pitch) by heart. It will keep you from being caught off guard.

Trade Show Booth

8. Pick up a copy of every piece of literature that is available. This will help you later during the follow up stage.

9. Avoid approaching booths when they are packed. If you approach when it’s busy, the chances of you getting to the right person are slim. You can plan on hitting most booths on the second day for that reason. But don’t wait until the third day, because some companies will be exhausted or have taken off by then.

10. Wait for the salespeople/owner to engage you. Approaching a booth can be intimidating, because it feels a bit like you’re walking into someone else’s living room. What has worked well is simply observing what’s going on around you and waiting for a salesperson to come to you. (They will.) When someone approaches you, compliment him/her on the company’s product or service and ask questions like, “Can you show me how this works?” Be genuine in trying to get a dialogue going. Eventually, the salesperson will ask you what you do. At that point, you should introduce yourself as you normally would.

11. Always make sure to get a card. It’s not enough to give someone your information. If you work a trade show hard, you could walk away with dozens of cards. That’s why trade shows are powerful. Also make relationship that will carry over into the months and years to follow. Write notes immediately to remind you what you spoke about. Use the 2 pocket system.

12. Follow up. Once you have someone’s card, you must follow up. All of your efforts will have been for naught if you don’t. I recommend waiting at least a week to do so. (Phone/Email/Digital PDF file/Hand Written Note/Thank You Gift)

13. Take it seriously. You are spending a lot of time and money. When you go to a show, You are working. Act appropriately you are representing your company and your Brand. You will be tired. So go to bed early.  LOL…

In conclusion, when attending a trade show – if you make the most of it – it is the number one way to get to know another company. After all, there are no gatekeepers.

Trade Show Booth, total packages

Create-A-Card, Inc Trade Show Booth

Happy Prospecting….

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