You've finally started your dream business. You have a website and have an online marketing plan. You're just not turning leads into customers at an acceptable rate. Having a booth at a trade show is a great way to provide product sampling for potential customers. But if you have never exhibited, there are a few things you should know.
Not every trade show is the same. You should research shows within your traveling distance and collect brochures and booth packets. When you have 2 or 3 you are seriously considering, it is a good idea to attend the show first. Walk around and check out the exhibits. Would you fit in? Does your product make sense here? Does this show promote to your potential customers?
Deciding what section your booth should be set up in is just as important as the show itself. You don't want to be right next to a competing company, but you do not want to be out of place either. Familiarizing yourself with your area will give you a leg up.
You want to customize your display to reflect your business attitude. It needs to be professional, but also attention-grabbing. Too many times companies design their display to fit their needs by fitting in as much information as possible. Think about it from the attendees' perspective. Would you want to walk up to your booth and just be overwhelmed with information?
Plan to have demos and let the product speak for itself. Be there to fill in any gaps and answer any questions your new leads may have. The display is to draw them in. You make the sale.
Tending to your booth and entertaining potential customers can be tiresome. Having a schedule in place allow breaks for meals as well as breaking up the monotony of having to stand, smile, and answer the same questions over and over. Breaks help keep you and your staff fresh and motivated.
Trade shows are good for more than just obtaining new customers. They are also a good place for meeting and learning about your competition. Make time in your schedule to walk around and speak with other exhibitors. Find out who has been doing this show for a couple of years and get some tips. Perhaps they know of another show that is similar you could be a part of.
You could also network with exhibitors whose products could be used in conjunction with yours. Your two companies could market your products together showing how they complement each other. This would help enlarge your customer pool, and you would be splitting the marketing costs.
It will be impossible to remember everyone and what the conversations were, even with that pile of business cards, by the end of the show. Take notes about each lead you spoke with and gather as much contact information as you can. Don't try to fit it all on the back of a business card either. Lead cards are a great way to keep track and stay organized.
Collecting all this valuable information will not do you any good if you do not follow-up right away. Do not wait a month or even a week to begin your follow-ups. Keep in mind that the show attendees were there in need of products just like yours. Don't let them slip to a competitor because you didn't want to seem needy. Be available without being pushy. Start with a follow-up phone call to verify their information. Then be sure to send them information about your product, and samples if you can. Follow that up with a phone call or email to make sure they received it and ask if they have any questions. Things will soon just fall into place.
Positive word of mouth is free publicity worth its weight in gold. Trade show marketing is a great way to get your product out there and see which is the best marketing tool there is. No one knows your product better than you.