Whether this is your first time or you’ve been to this rodeo before, trade shows have the ability energize your business and put you in touch with people capable of changing the game for you. With that in mind, this article serves as a guide for best practices in preparation for a successful trade show experience.
First and foremost, get into the right mindset. Get your business cards ready, and recognize this will be a great opportunity to network. There will likely be potential investors and clients looking for your great idea.
Prepare a clear and concise message of who you are, what you represent, and what makes you different from everybody else. Most trade shows will have some news presence at them, so the opportunity for you to get your name out there exists with traditional media outlets. That opportunity has grown ever greater with the flourishing of social media, as attendees will undoubtedly be publishing their insights and discoveries. Try to be part of them.
When it comes to discoveries, contact the company setting up the trade show and find out if there are any opportunities to be a speaker. People who speak at these events are seen as industry leaders, and it represents an amazing chance to deliver a message that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd.
The second stage of this process is to do some scouting. Begin to ask yourself, and the host of the event, some questions: Who else is attending? Are they active on social media? What are they doing on social media? How can I best promote my company at this event through social media?
The third stage of this focuses on how you and your business will be seen by others. Two key components to this stage: branding and speaking.
When it comes to branding, your signage will be paramount to catching the eye of attendees and delivering traffic to your booth. Attracting people to your booth will only attract even more people to your booth. Make that signage sing.
When it comes to speaking opportunities at trade shows, inquire with the organizers. Speakers at these type of events are seen as industry thought leaders, and it will give you a lot of extra coverage and publicity. If you’re lucky enough to get one of these highly sought after slots, be sure to brush up on your public speaking skills ahead of time!
You’ve reached the fourth stage when the show opens and attendees arrive, so get ready to shake hands and kiss babies! It’s time to put on your best smile and schmooze with the best of them. If you don’t have a smartphone already, get one with a good camera so you can document the event as much as possible.
Even better, have someone else document the event for you.
Engage with social media throughout the event. Use the photos you’re taking. Promote your speaking engagement, if you booked one, and be sure to use a dynamic photo that represents the image you want to project. Use relevant markers of the event like tagging the venue, the trade show name, or hash tags of the event that may be trending.
Once the trade show has completed, there is still some work to be done to truly make it a success. Be sure to follow up with all the great relationships you forged throughout the event. If you were able to get some coverage, be sure to promote it as much as possible! Retweet, repost, link articles on your website, and promote any relevant coverage through social media. The people who talk about you in public will appreciate you promoting their promotion of you!
Finally, determine your return on the investment. Different companies will have different formulas for this process, but it’s integral that you have one to differentiate your impact from event to event.
The trade show experience can be a game changer for your business through clever messaging and a charismatic presence in your industry. Utilize the best practices from this trade show tune up and navigate your event like a pro.