You signed up a few months ago, and a week before the big event you get a reminder email with the last-minute details - cue the inevitable panic, as you realise you had forgotten…! No fear, follow our easy step-by-step guide for tradeshow success. Business tradeshows, expos and conferences continue to be one of the most effective forms of business marketing exercises to promote your brand across many spectrums. Yet a solid marketing and business strategy must be put in place for it be to successful.
1. Plan a few months in advance!
What we've seen is when exhibitors start to look at which tradeshows to attend and which ones they want to commit to, businesses fall into three categories of planning:
A. Put it all together last minute, turn up and pray someone talks to you!
B. Buy a pop up banner and a few business cards, grab a bottle of wine or box of chocolates from your local supermarket and put out a glass bowl in front to entice guests to put a card in to win said bottle of wine, then smile and wait to pounce on someone passing by.
C. Plan for the event and check out who else is exhibiting; look at their websites and company blogs to see if they actively promote themselves to get a competitive advantage, or if they're simply following the trends of doing nothing. In our opinion, it is critical to do as much research as possible about the event you are attending, including about its exhibitors and of course the hosts themselves. By doing all this you are safeguarding your business interests with professional focus and you are more likely to form partnerships, make money and get a good Return of Investment (ROI).
Planning your tradeshow in advance ensures that you not only avoid panic, but you can also tailor your stand carefully and effectively to entice and entertain guests and potential business.
2. Develop a marketing strategy!
Pop up banners, business cards and a smile unfortunately doesn't mean people will stop and talk. Yet a creative, thought-through stand complete with games, puzzles or engaging tools will generate a buzz and attract a larger crowd of potential customers or clients.
At Net XP and Sussex Pages, we engage with our staff to hear their ideas and brainstorm for each event and then plan and execute an effective marketing strategy to gain a competitive edge and advantage to keep us ahead of potential competitors. So ask your staff what they think, get everyone involved and start having fun thinking of your marketing strategy.
3. Never go alone!
Assuming you have done all your preparation and planning in advance, you should always make the investment in trade shows and exhibitions and be as pro-active as possible. Bring along some little helpers, it can be even more rewarding to have a helping hand or two.
You will probably already know that running an expo or tradeshow event is a full time job while the exhibition is on, let alone the extra 2-3 hours you spend either side of the show, setting up and closing up. Having an extra pair of hands to take the reins or an extra smile to take over when you need that break will be invaluable.
A helpful tip for those going it alone is to make friends with the stands either side of you as they can help to take cards for you and keep an eye out for potential customers for you when you make a dash for coffee or the toilet.
4. Shout out about the event!
Word of mouth and recommendation is the core foundations to any good event or expo. So shout about it! Shout on your website, on your social media and even ask the hosts of the event for support to help promote it - don't be shy, they'll probably be happy to help.
Try perhaps a static banner for your website, or an email signature to help promote the event, and just get posting… don't forget to make the most out of hashtags to get the most coverage.
5. Select a good tradeshow space!
Choosing where you park your gear at a tradeshow is very important, as is how effectively you manage your space.
If you have a custom stand built for tradeshows it can be easy to fit yourself into any space, but if you have a pop up banner and a small table, you might struggle to fit in all in as well as being swamped by other companies nudging into your space. Make sure that you can manage your space effectively. This is your time to shine, so get your stand sorted - use bright colours, do something different and watch the visitors roll in.
Also, and this one links to prior planning, have a think about the floor plan when you next buy a tradeshow stand. Sussex Pages and Net XP particularly like corner areas at tradeshows as it allows us to be seen via two or three-way traffic footfall. Sometimes the front is not the best spot as people tend to want to come in and meander to find their bearings, without talking to people. Look for the café area, the speed networking zone or the workshop and seminar areas, as these areas usually have continuous traffic.
Remember to do your research, buy your space intelligently and then utilise it well!
Follow these 5 steps for a successful and fruitful tradeshow and see how your experience is transformed!