Tradeshows offer unlimited benefits to market your product, service or business and grow your network. Even though the online world of advertising has taken over as a major source of lead acquisition and making new contacts – the impact of trade shows remains a cornerstone for expanding your reach and creating brand awareness. The main benefit offered by trade shows is that they bring everyone together for a face-to-face meeting to make personal connections with others in your industry.
Value propositions of tradeshows:
- Network with potential customers and partners
- Learn ways to improve your business
- Learn more about your industry
- Meet a better supplier that adds value to your business
Is your small business ready to reap the benefits of tradeshows? Results are influenced directly by what you put into it. Keep reading to learn how small businesses win tradeshows.
Planning for the Tradeshow
Careful and thoughtful planning months – even a year in advance – is the best practice to make your tradeshow experience a success. When developing your yearly marketing plan, that is the time to decide which tradeshows you are going to attend and sign up for them. Spots will fill up sooner than you might think, so the sooner you get signed up, the more influence you will have on where your booth is placed. Furthermore, by booking in advance, you will also save money on travel expenses such as hotel costs, flights, etc. Things you need to do in preparation for the tradeshow include:
- Invest in a cool display that will stand out and make an impression on people’s minds. Take this same approach with your business cards by having them printed on a special material such as metal or wood so they stand out.
- Plan how you will engage visitors at your booth. You want everyone that comes to your booth to interact with your brand and experience something that will leave an imprint in their mind by the end of the show. Virtual reality (VR) is a great way to accomplish this. This may sound complex, but it’s really simple. If you are a real estate company, for example, have a laptop set up with images of your properties for sale. Other VR options include software demos and web applications.
- Other ideas for engaging visitors include arranging games with prizes or even a contest at your booth. Be creative and offer something unexpected and interesting.
- Do your homework. Expectations of an upcoming tradeshow may be completely different than reality. Plan correctly by talking to people that have been to this event or a similar event in the past.
- Set goals for the trade show and work hard to meet these goals and keep track of goal completion during the event.
- Consider paid opportunities such as teaching workshops, sponsorships, presenter opportunities, etc. Sponsoring the event will ensure your brand awareness reaches everyone at the show.
Rocking the Event
Game day performance is everything when it comes to tradeshows. Just sitting at a booth and being present is not nearly enough. Make every interaction count and treat all contacts as if they will be future clients. A positive attitude and a firm handshake will go a long way. Important points to keep in mind while at the tradeshow include:
- Never leave your booth unattended. It’s ideal to have four people present so two people can be at the booth at all times and two others can go around and network and visit other booths. Plus, you want to come off as relaxed, confident, and convey that you are having fun – which is easier accomplished with a companion rather than solo.
- Stay organized and keep track of all business cards and contacts made. Most tradeshows will have some sort of contact database that helps you accomplish this task. At your booth, gather more valuable leads by having visitors fill out their name and email address directly into a computer.
- Seize opportunities to strengthen relationships with new contacts by grabbing coffee together, setting up lunch or another meeting for later during the show.
- Never go straight into a hard sales pitch. Evaluate each contact you meet and determine whether they could add value to your business or what you could do to add value to their business or connect them with someone that can.
Following up After the Tradeshow
Surprisingly, how you follow up with your new contacts after a show is the most important part. This is when you have the chance to turn these leads into real opportunities. Ongoing relationships and communication are vital to convert opportunities into sales. Here are some suggestions for after the tradeshow:
- Send out thank you cards to every contact made at the show. In this first thank you card, there is no need to push any type of sales. The purpose is simply to build upon your connection and strengthen the relationship and try to establish another meeting. If you do not hear back, follow up.
- Add contacts to email marketing list but be sure to segment them correctly and be careful not to spam. Be sure to indicate in your CRM which contacts were from the event in order to track conversions from the show.
- Evaluate your goals and find out which were met, which were not, and create a plan to do better in future events.
- Track every conversion to accurately calculate ROI generated from the event. If you sell products, provide leads with a code that they will enter at checkout that will keep track of trade show sales.
Relevant Tradeshows in Texas
Check out this page to view a list of all the major tradeshows in Texas cities. Some of the most popular tradeshows that you might find relevant include: