Congratulations on setting up your own business. It has been a dream of yours for years: putting the wheels in motion to turn your big idea into reality and now you have achieved it. You have recently started trading, your website is live, you are well connected across all platforms of social media, and you are ready for the orders to start flooding in. Your business plan is sound, you have worked out your projections and have secured financial backing. Now, you are eager to spread the word about your new and exciting venture.
Websites and social media are one thing. But how do you create the buzz, word of mouth and the wow reactions that get potential clientele really talking and getting excited about your company? One solution is to embark on your first trade show exhibition. These are ideal stages at which to showcase your company and explain clearly to the masses what it is that you sell, what it is that you are offering that is different to your competitors and, of course, offer a discount. You will get to network with other companies, mingle with the public and often get to do some ad hoc market research from passers-by. A trade show exhibition is your chance to shine as an individual and to make your mark in your industry sector. It is also an opportunity to experiment and explore different marketing strategies. Read on to discover how best to approach the world of the trade show and gain the most exposure as you possibly can for your business.
Big Or Small?
Trade show exhibitions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are relatively niche and local whereas others are international, world-renowned, and can induce mild hyperventilation when witnessing the sheer vastness of them. You may think that bigger is better. While this can often be the case, you do not want to become lost within a sea of booths and end up being forgettable. Consider a marginally less grand approach for your first trade show especially if you want to be remembered. The chances are you will have a pitch or a stall that is a blank canvas ready for you to be creative and make your business stand out. Fewer people may attend, but these people will also be seeing fewer businesses exhibiting making it more likely that your message will be the one that sticks in their mind.
Google is your best friend. Get on the Internet and research the trade shows that you are considering. Do they exhibit companies from your industry sector? If you sign up to attend a hugely successful travel industry expo, but you are an accountant specializing in the contractor market, then you may not have the greatest of days out. Ensure the trade show that you want to attend is relevant and will allow you to make a significant impact. Look into the people who are actually running the show. Do they advertise the exhibitors beforehand and do they have enough exposure on social media? Ensure that it makes financial sense to attend the trade show in the first place. Don’t forget to factor in your overheads such as transport and fuel costs.
When you have selected the perfect trade show exhibition for your business, go ahead and book your pitch. This is where the excitement really starts.
It’s All About The Pitch
You are the face of your business. A trade show exhibition is not the time to revert to your introverted self and clam up. You will need to be expressive, passionate and exude enthusiasm about your business ideas. Dress appropriately. Look smart. Potential customers can walk past your pitch at any time, so it’s vital that you are always ready to field questions and sell your product.
Make sure you obtain a floor plan of the event at the earliest opportunity and find out where you will be situated. Start marketing as soon as you can by letting your current clients know that you will be at this particular event and incentivise them to show up at your booth with a little freebie or discount. By igniting a spark, you can set in motion that all important word of mouth marketing, freeing up your time to concentrate on planning the practicalities of the trade show.
If you are fortunate enough to have a decent amount of space, consider investing in a high-quality facade with your logo and contact details as well as enough promotional materials for the number of attendees you are expecting. Make sure you don’t attend the event alone and that you have a couple of laptops with a slide show or video detailing your company and what you have to offer. This is great if you’re busy talking to a small group of people and there is a hive of activity around your pitch. The laptop is like an extra body providing static information to those who may otherwise not have stopped at your stall. Consider displaying the product you are selling and showing it off in all its glory. People love to try before they buy so don’t miss this opportunity if it is present.
Another way of adding a layer of professionalism to your pitch is by hiring experienced trade show models. These ladies are true experts in the fields of customer engagement and reading body language. They will be able to pick up leads that you didn’t even know were there. Confident and attractive, the models will represent your company spreading your message and attracting further potential clients to your pitch.
Ensure everyone manning your stand, including assistants and trade show models, has appropriate breaks. Exhibitions are physically and mentally tiring. Standing on your feet all day is one thing, but if you are not drinking enough water or taking an adequate lunch break your energy levels may begin to wane. Design a simple timetable so that everyone receives an allotted time for their lunch and short breaks while ensuring the stall is tended to at all times.
Gimmicks and freebies are great to attract potential customers. It is free marketing with people carrying away the company branded plastic bag complete with company branded bottle of water and company branded retractable pencil. Who doesn’t want a free retractable pencil? Just make sure that this isn’t the only thing people are talking about when it comes to your stall. Your booth or pitch or stall needs to enhance your business and showcase your message. Ensure that you wow the attendees with your style of communication, your presentation, and personality. If you have the likability factor, you will immediately put your target audience at ease, and they will be willing to listen to what you have to say.
What Do You Want To Achieve?
This sounds like an easy question. Increase sales. However, with a little bit more thought, you can plan to achieve a great deal more.
Do you want to create an email mailing list of contacts? By taking the names of attendees who may be interested in your product, you are able to communicate with them via email and social media in a more meaningful way. The people that have signed up are already interested in what you have to offer, so you are already building a network of potential clients. You may wish to gain another one hundred followers on Twitter or another seventy-five likes on Facebook. This will allow you to gauge just how much new interest there is in your company.
It may be important to you that you are able to mingle with other businesses at the trade show exhibition. Can you cut your expenditure by finding another supplier of a material that you require? By sourcing potential new suppliers you may forge further links within the industry in which you are just starting out.
Onto The Next Event
Ensure that you remain professional even after the event. Thank the organizers and touch base with those other companies that you were able to network with. You never know, you may get the whiff of a lead and find yourself making money off the back of being polite.
Send out a newsletter style email to the people who signed up to your contact list, ensure you keep your social media feeds updated and write a post about your experience at the trade show exhibition to put up on your company blog.
Analyze what went well at your first trade show and try to improve those aspects of the event that did not go quite according to plan. Trade show exhibitions are a great learning experience and a fantastic way of putting your business on the map. Get people talking about your company for all the right reasons. When you are ready, look into attending your second carefully selected trade show exhibition and then your third. By following this definitive guide for each event, you will be able to grasp each and every opportunity to showcase your business.