Exhibiting at a trade show can help you generate new leads and build business relationships. There can be substantial costs involved, so it is important to get things right. Follow these tips to make the most of exhibiting at trade shows.
1. Do your research – it’s important to pick a trade show that will attract your target market. Find out demographic information about the delegates, for example industry and job title. You should also find out how popular and well-run an event is before committing to buying stand space. You could initially go as a delegate and decide whether to take a stand the following year. See choose the right trade fair.
2. Get your stand design and location right – many other businesses will also be exhibiting. This includes your competitors. You should design a stand that is eye-catching and professional. It may be worthwhile to choose and work with a designer. Stand location is also important – choose a space that is near the entrance or break-out area.
3. Look out for marketing opportunities – beyond attending the event itself, there can be a number of other opportunities. Use public relations (PR) and social media to raise awareness that you will be attending. You may be able to work with the organiser to send email marketing communications to their database of attendees.
4. Build your database – be sure to take business cards or contact details of the potential customers you meet. Exhibitions are a great way to source qualified leads. Running competitions or give-aways in exchange for contact details can be effective. Some exhibitions offer the option of using an electronic scanner to collect contact details from delegate badges. See manage your customer database. Be sure to adhere to rules around personal data and direct marketing – see privacy and data protection in direct marketing.
5. Network – introduce yourself and speak to not just potential customers, but also suppliers and competitors. This can be a valuable source of market research. See understand your competitors.
6. Follow up and evaluate – a personal follow-up phone call or email to potential customers you’ve met can help turn leads into sales. Evaluate the success of your attendance to decide whether it is worth going back next year. Weigh up the number of leads and sales against the costs of attending.