Tired of Running Around? Get More Out of Trade Shows

Tired of Running Around? Get More Out of Trade Shows

people at tradeshow

While some traditional marketing strategies are becoming obsolete, thanks in large part to the Internet, there’s one strategy that has stood the test of time: trade shows. In fact, the trade show circuit isn’t just alive, it’s booming. Need proof? Just look at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It hosted 3,200 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees, posting its largest and best show to date.

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great opportunity to generate new leads and show the marketplace that you’re improving your business and evolving. For businesses that just choose to attend, the events are a great place to network with others, investigate new products, and strengthen existing relationships.

Despite the many benefits of trade shows, however, they remain a costly marketing channel. That being said, it’s important to get the biggest bang for your buck. Below are some tips and tricks to help get the most out of tradeshows, whether you’re exhibiting or just attending.

If You're Exhibiting...

Choosing to exhibit at a trade show is a major commitment and investment. Simply showing up, setting up your booth, and waiting for people to stop by is not an effective strategy. It takes months of preparation before opening day. Consider these three steps:

Step 1. Set Well Defined Goals: While the most obvious objective at a trade show is to generate quality leads, it’s important to determine in advance how many new prospects you hope to acquire. For example, if you’re showcasing a new product, you may want to set your goal based on how many product demos you hope to conduct.

Step 2. Invite the Right People: Book appointments with existing customers and potential prospects ahead of time to assure floor traffic to your booth. This will ensure that you meet with those who are most important to your business. Or, if you want to attract media, set up interviews in advance.

Step 3. Teach and Train Your Booth Staff: There’s nothing worse than wasting precious time with visitors who aren’t serious about learning about your company. Teach and train your staff to recognize true prospects, while indentifying those who are just “passing by” looking for free loot.

If You're Attending...

For businesses that are just starting out or don’t have the budget to exhibit, simply attending a trade show can be beneficial as it exposes you to what’s in the marketplace and provides the opportunity to meet and network with others in your space. Just because you’re not exhibiting, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare.

Step 1. Pick the Right Show: Rather than attending four or five mediocre trade shows, focus your efforts on one or two trade shows that will provide the most value. Choose a show that is closest to your product or service niche. Moreover, consider your objectives. Are you expanding your core competencies and therefore looking to learn more about what’s on the market?

Step 2. Make a Schedule: Take advantage of any material you receive before the show to compile a list of vendors, presentations, and conference sessions that you want to see or attend. Then create a tentative schedule for each day. This will ensure you make the best use of your time.

Step 3. Build the Proper Team: Depending on the size of the show, you might want to consider bringing another team member along so you don’t miss out on any opportunities—especially those to network. However, make sure you bring a team member who can benefit from attending and who will be an asset to the business.

people at tradeshow

While some traditional marketing strategies are becoming obsolete, thanks in large part to the Internet, there’s one strategy that has stood the test of time: trade shows. In fact, the trade show circuit isn’t just alive, it’s booming. Need proof? Just look at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It hosted 3,200 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees, posting its largest and best show to date.

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great opportunity to generate new leads and show the marketplace that you’re improving your business and evolving. For businesses that just choose to attend, the events are a great place to network with others, investigate new products, and strengthen existing relationships.

Despite the many benefits of trade shows, however, they remain a costly marketing channel. That being said, it’s important to get the biggest bang for your buck. Below are some tips and tricks to help get the most out of tradeshows, whether you’re exhibiting or just attending.

If You're Exhibiting...

Choosing to exhibit at a trade show is a major commitment and investment. Simply showing up, setting up your booth, and waiting for people to stop by is not an effective strategy. It takes months of preparation before opening day. Consider these three steps:

Step 1. Set Well Defined Goals: While the most obvious objective at a trade show is to generate quality leads, it’s important to determine in advance how many new prospects you hope to acquire. For example, if you’re showcasing a new product, you may want to set your goal based on how many product demos you hope to conduct.

Step 2. Invite the Right People: Book appointments with existing customers and potential prospects ahead of time to assure floor traffic to your booth. This will ensure that you meet with those who are most important to your business. Or, if you want to attract media, set up interviews in advance.

Step 3. Teach and Train Your Booth Staff: There’s nothing worse than wasting precious time with visitors who aren’t serious about learning about your company. Teach and train your staff to recognize true prospects, while indentifying those who are just “passing by” looking for free loot.

If You're Attending...

For businesses that are just starting out or don’t have the budget to exhibit, simply attending a trade show can be beneficial as it exposes you to what’s in the marketplace and provides the opportunity to meet and network with others in your space. Just because you’re not exhibiting, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare.

Step 1. Pick the Right Show: Rather than attending four or five mediocre trade shows, focus your efforts on one or two trade shows that will provide the most value. Choose a show that is closest to your product or service niche. Moreover, consider your objectives. Are you expanding your core competencies and therefore looking to learn more about what’s on the market?

Step 2. Make a Schedule: Take advantage of any material you receive before the show to compile a list of vendors, presentations, and conference sessions that you want to see or attend. Then create a tentative schedule for each day. This will ensure you make the best use of your time.

Step 3. Build the Proper Team: Depending on the size of the show, you might want to consider bringing another team member along so you don’t miss out on any opportunities—especially those to network. However, make sure you bring a team member who can benefit from attending and who will be an asset to the business.

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