Thriving at Trade Shows – Be Prepared
So, you committed to doing the show! Congratulations, but don't relax quite yet. Things are just getting started, and you need to prepare. The first thing I do is develop a timeline. How long before the show, and what do I need to gather and create?
Chances are you will need some updated promotional products for the event, maybe even a few new pieces. It can seem overwhelming at first, but if you focus on small parts of the puzzle, the whole picture will come together nicely.
The first step in preparation is deciding what your objective is and how you want to achieve that goal. Are you there to educate visitors? Then your promotional products need to reflect the information they will find relevant and useful. If you are selling a service, you need something that explains what service you provide and how much it cost. There are various ways to convey your message; the most crucial aspect is to keep it consistent with your company policies and talking points.
Once you know what you are trying to achieve, then you can formulate an idea of what it takes to get that message across. Different media will take various times to create, so you need to know what your deadlines are for outsourcing, printing, formatting, etc. If these are things out of your comfort zone, you'll want to hire someone to manage it for you, and you'll need a timeline for that as well.
An excellent way to put together a cohesive plan for gathering and preparing is to reverse engineer by stating what you want and then looking at the steps required to get there. Outlining is an easy way to start, and you can get more focused as you look at each level separately. Using a checklist is very helpful.
The items we've talked about so far deal with what you will use for displaying on your table, backdrops, and handouts. But what about collecting information and completing the transaction? You must have a way to accomplish tasks, or you will not get a return on your investment. Even if your sole purpose is to provide information, how will you track the consumer's response? How will you know your efforts paid off?
There is a multitude of ways to collect customer data at a tradeshow. It depends on what you are going to do with the information. If you don't send out newsletters or email blasts, then getting an email address probably won't do you much good. However, if you actively participate in social media, an option to like or follow you collects data in a location you are already using.
Whatever method you use, make sure it is easy and takes minimum time to complete. Otherwise, you will lose out on those who would have given you information but did not want to jump through hoops. With today's technology, it can be as simple as a click, an app, or a thumbs up.
Preparation also includes your area setup. How will you use the given space to create a memorable display for potential clients? How will you stand out from the other vendors in a positive way? It isn't a rule to put your table out front; it's just something a lot of vendors do. Does this work for you? Bringing in different layouts, textures, and color schemes can quickly elevate you above the rest. It may require ordering items ahead of time, so you want to make sure you think as far ahead as possible.
A trade show is a tremendous opportunity to present your company in front of a lot of new clients. Prior preparation will go a long way toward making a great impression and assisting your follow-up afterward.
This article is the fourth in a series of Thriving at Trade Shows as we prepare for the 2020 Alternative Health Expo. Check back weekly for new tips on how you can optimize the experience and make your participation a success!
Kathie Fingerson is the founder of the Alternative Health Expo which attracts thousands of visitors each spring in Grand Junction, CO. See more tips on creating a successful expo experience, click here.
The Alternative Health Expo is growing into a destination event for our community. Our March 2019 event was a huge success with around 4000 visitors! E.P.I.C.™ Grand Valley magazine launched their first issue, a wonderful publication dedicated to Empowering People and Inspiring Community. Everyone had a great time and learned about lots of new and exciting healing techniques.