Tradeshows, Are They for You?
Kathie Fingerson 12/10/17
Should you participate in tradeshows? If you need to educate the public about who you are, what you do, or new products then yes, you should participate in tradeshows. These are the perfect opportunity to connect with potentially new clients, and other like-minded businesses.
To be successful, you have to determine the objective for the event. In other words, introducing a new company or brand, introducing a new service, reinforcing an existing company, or showing a new product.
If you are introducing yourself as a new company or brand, then the objective is to begin relationships with new clients. This can be done through a combination of sensory promotions. Anytime you are giving an introduction, you want to reinforce that meeting with a variety of ways to remember the encounter. Prepare literature consumers can take, have a video on a loop that includes a voice-over that tells about your services and who you are, and be prepared to stand up and greet visitors as they approach. Remember that this entire encounter is about first impressions, so have your material professionally prepared and your talking points worked out ahead of time. You do not want to waste time in a non-focused conversation that accomplishes nothing, when you can talk with that same individual and provide them with possible solutions. They are looking to you as an expert and you need to reinforce that image by being knowledgeable about what you do, why you do it, and how you are different from your competitors.
If you are introducing a new service, you must have literature for consumers to take. This is crucial because many people will tell others about a service they are excited about, and having literature will give them something to pass on to their friends and co-workers. If your business involves touching the client such as, massage, Reiki, etc., think about having enough staff on hand to provide sample services. A five-minute massage will go a long way to building a relationship with a potential client because it is so personal.
The down-side is that it can tie up a service provider and lead to a very long day without maximizing return. If one provider is doing 5 minute massages, you need to allow 10 minutes per client for filling out paperwork, signing consent forms, and following up with business cards and setting future appointments. This means only 6 new contacts in 1 hour, if the event is 5 hours long, that is only 30 contacts. This is a small number compared to what can be accomplished with additional staff.
While one staff member is providing a sample service, another can be engaging visitors, answering questions, lining up future appointments, or providing services. I suggest you always have at least one person to engage visitors, this is crucial because it keeps the brand interactions going and out front.
Reinforcing a company at at tradeshow means reminding the consumer that you are still an important component in the industry. Even if you have been in business for 20 years, you want to keep your brand relevant among competitors. Let consumers know you are still around for a reason, because you are an expert who has built your core competency around quality services and products.
There is one more important factor to think about when participating at tradeshows, you must be able to interact with consumers by being approachable! Do not sit behind your table with your arms closed. Body language is crucial. You can be open and inviting or closed off. Stand up, start a conversation with passersby even if it is just "how are you, hope you are enjoying yourself today". These simple steps tell the visitors you are glad they are there and you are sincerely eager to meet them. They are doing you a favor by coming to the show, please treat them with the courtesy of appreciating their visit by smiling!