Marketing October 15, 2019 Last updated October 15th, 2019 73 Reads share

How to Market Yourself the Right Way at a Trade Show

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Trade shows offer an incredible opportunity to network, make connections with other industry executives, and hopefully make some new clients and ultimately increase sales too. However, a successful event is only possible if you put in measurable efforts. Unique ideas and presentations can only go so far without a harmonious approach or a good plan. 

These tips can help you understand the best ways to market yourself at the next trade show you plan to attend so that it can be a successful one.

Plan Ahead

A well thought out strategy by planning ahead is essential for a successful trade show appearance. Usually, there’s a significant amount of both time and money that goes into a trade show, so a strategic effort is necessary to ensure that it doesn’t go to waste. You can also review and learn from other successful exhibitors, no matter how much experience you have behind you or how much preparation you think you’ve. Have an open mind as something new can almost always be learned from those around you and those in similar fields.

Prior to the show, reach out via email to your marketing list and let them know that you’ll be attending. Mail invitations to potential clients you believe might have an interest in attending and promote the event at your office for walk-in customers to see, and beyond. Make a list of your star potential clients, those who you believe might be easier to get on board with your products or services, and perhaps another you might refer to as “dream clients” – while they may seem out of reach, the more you could in front of them, the more that distance will be bridged. Contact each one by phone or email with a personal invitation and attempt to schedule a meeting with them before or during the conference. This can help to ensure that you at least get to speak with each potential client so that you can inform them about your services or products, enticing them to come check them out. Try not to be discouraged if you’re unable to chat with them directly before the show, as you may get another chance in person once you’re there.

Planning ahead also includes making travel arrangements, such as airline tickets and hotel reservations in advance. Large shows with thousands in attendance mean that nearby hotels can sell out quickly. It will make your life much easier if you’re staying at the hotel where the trade show is being held or at least within walking distance.

Hire Help 

If your company does not have an in-house designer, little time to prepare advertising material, or the right technology to maintain leads, consider hiring a company that offers exposition services. Companies that specialize in such services can offer unique and cost-effective solutions to show organizers and exhibitors. They can analyze your needs and create a personalized approach for every event. They feature state of the art technology available to you and in-house design professionals to provide beautiful graphics, informative marketing material, and printing capabilities.

First Impression

First impressions are very important when trying to win over new customers. It has a direct effect on your long-term relationship and studies have shown that it’s formed in only one-tenth of a second. This means appearance, brand imagery, and presentation are extremely important when exhibiting at a trade show where you’ll be making a first impression on perhaps hundreds of different people. Make sure your branding is on point, your booth is clean, that those hosting the booth have a professional appearance and know their sales pitch like the back of their hand. 

Creating a warm and inviting atmosphere goes a long way too – you might even want to offer tea, coffee and/or cookies.

Advertising Material and Promotional Giveaways 

While you should always have business cards, trade show attendees will likely lose them among the 500 other cards they receive. Try to give out more than one card to each person you speak to. If they found their time speaking with you was intriguing, they might just pass your card along to others in need of your services. Besides business cards, you should create some memorable material that can leave a lasting impression on those you speak to as you’ll probably only 30 to 60 seconds with most people. By creating informative and easy to read pamphlets, you have a better chance that potential clients will decide to look over the material once they’ve returned home, remember your compelling discussion, and perhaps even reach out to you for your products or services. 

Many companies decide to label pens, notepads, and other small items and give them to show attendees for free. This is optional to go along with the pamphlet, but it can prove to be a valuable investment, and these days many expect them. Promotional giveaways like stickers, wristbands, pins, lanyards, and other trinkets, especially those that stand out from the rest can be a great way to keep your name on the minds of attendees. Offer a giveaway to those who wear the item throughout the event – Others at the tradeshow are likely to notice and be intrigued enough to visit your booth. 

Be Confident

Needless to say, the people that host your booth must be confident and passionate about the company’s products and services. Introverts will probably have a difficult time reaching out to attendees and making a successful sales conversion. Make sure your best salespeople attend and create a competition to help motivate such as who gets the highest number of leads and sales, giving the winner a prize worth working hard for.

Follow Up

Follow up with leads immediately after the show, preferably the following day. The sooner you can contact them the better. If you wait too long, they’re likely to have forgotten all about your company or the conversations they may have had. Even if they enjoyed a unique presentation, attendees meet so many people during a trade show, it can be hard to remember everyone’s names and products afterwards. 

Adam Torkildson

Adam Torkildson

Adam is the owner of Social Media Explorer, which is owned by his other company, Tork Media. He splits his time between writing, editing, and managing both enterprises.

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