Top Tips for Trade Show Success

If you run a small business or you are a freelancer, it can be difficult to know how to divide up your time. You want to spend as much time as possible doing what you do best, but if you don’t actually take the time to get your name out there and drum up business, then you are never going to be able to sustain your business for a long period of time.

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Even though so much business has moved online these days, attending or exhibiting at a trade show can still be a valuable thing to do to develop new contacts, and hopefully, clients. Whatever type of industry you work in, there will certainly be a few trade shows that you can go to. However, before you actually attend, you will want to ask yourself a few key questions so you and your business can make the most of the experience.


Why Am I Attending?


Okay, it is a very obvious one, but still a question that needs answering nevertheless. You may be there to launch a new product, build up your personal brand or simply to generate some new contacts. Once you have established your central motive, you will be in a much better position to make sure you are fully prepared for the show. You also need to establish why you have chosen this particular show ahead of others, whether it is because you will find a more targeted client base or because it is the biggest of its kind.


Am I Fully Prepared?


Getting ready for a show several months in advance can save you both time and money. Signing up early can get you significantly discounted rates, and this is particularly important if you are planning to exhibit at the show. On the flip side, trade shows are notorious for hitting you with unexpected costs if you sign up at the last minute. Make sure to have any business cards and other marketing materials you need printed off well in advance, and prepare any shipping cases you may need from Plan a budget and timeline in advance, and stick as closely to this as you possibly can.


Who Am I Targeting?


The biggest trade shows can have tens of thousands of people milling about, so you want to make sure you are actually talking to the right people. Try to be proactive in your approach to the trade show. If you have a booth, this will be your base camp, but you should also seek out potential buyers of your goods or services. Many trade shows offer maps of who is exhibiting and where, so make sure to study this so you end up talking to the right people. The amount of time that you have at the event is limited, so you will want to make sure that you are making the most of this unique opportunity.


Have I Prepared Supporting Materials?

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As well as the memory of actually talking to you, you should give potential clients different marketing materials to take away with them. If you have yet to develop a strong brand, logo and colour scheme, there has never been a better time to do this. If you have a stand, it needs to be eye-catching to encourage people to stop rather than simply walking by. Your primary marketing tool will probably be your business card, but you should also consider giving people and brochure detailing your experience, the services you offer and any client testimonials that you have acquired. Also consider any extra items that could make you stand out from the crowd like stationary, tote bags and other gimmicks. If you have attended a few of these shows in the past, you will be in a much better position to work out what works and what doesn’t


Have I Contacted a PR Firm?


If you are planning to make a big impression at the show, you may want to consider hiring a PR firm to maximise your presence. Most shows have some sort of media attendance, and PR firms have the best network of contacts that can set you up with exclusive opportunities before, during and after the show. Once again, it pays dividends to get in contact with them well in advance so they have the most time to work their magic.


Have I Promoted My Own Presence at the Show?


You don’t want to just rely on outside firms to promote your presence at the trade show, but you should also be shouting about it yourself. Use your social media accounts to post information about your attendance and also write a blog to go on your website. You could also start contacting other firms that you know will be in attendance, telling them that you will be there and also setting up early meetings. While you are actually at the show, you could consider updating your accounts with some video content showing people how the event is going.


Do I Have a Post-Show Plan?

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Once you have got back from the trade show, your work isn’t completely over. If everything has gone according to plan, you should come away with a hatful of new business cards and you now need to follow up your leads. Send an email thanking them for talking with you, and detailing some more information about the types of services that you offer. If you don’t get a response, it is worth putting in a phone call. The longer your wait, the more likely it is that you will miss out on the business and all your hard work could have gone to waste.
These are just a few of the top questions that you can ask yourself before attending a trade show. If you make sure you are fully prepared before the show, you will be able to make the most of your time there. But don’t forget to have a plan in place afterward as well so you can follow up on the connections you have made.

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