After going through drawing board after drawing board and multiple business plans, you have finally reached the production stage for your innovative product. Now you’re ready to show the world what you’ve got, but how?
Trade shows are great avenues for product and brand exposure. Benefits include opportunities to network, scope out the competition, get media coverage and seek sales. Sounds pretty neat, right? But of course, there are always caveats; the biggest being costs. If you don’t prepare correctly, you may fail to increase sales, resulting in losses. With 300 other companies around you doing similar things, you need to give prospective clients something to bite on — a way to draw them in. Here are seven tips to make the most of your trade show booth and beat out your competition.
1. Dare to be Different
Your booth should look clean, synchronized, and sharp, and so should your team. Signs and logos should be clear, and easy to read. Display tables should only have brochures, samples, and other relevant material on them -- no candy wrappers or half-finished coffee cups. Your team doesn’t have to match, but should be coordinated for optimal impact. However, cleanliness and uniformity are usually not enough. You want to catch every passerby’s attention, and that requires you to think big; maybe even look big. Try loud uniforms, a mascot, or an eye-popping prop, but make sure that it is relevant and consistent with your brand. If retailers see something cool and different, they’re going to want to check it out at some point. We all have that childish urge deep down inside of us.
2. Perfect the Pitch
You have less than a minute before you lose a prospective retailer’s attention. Use that time wisely. Remember that we have the internet now. This means that retailers can find all of the details and information they need about your product without you. At a trade show booth, your goal is to lure retailers in with your brand and story, not necessarily your product. There are 20 other tea distributors within a three-foot radius. What makes you different? Tell a story that resonates with others, something that they can relate to. Emotional reach is gold. After you have the customer’s full attention, give them a quick sentence or two about the product itself and how they will benefit from it. Will it boost their environmentally friendly image? Help them be a part of a larger charity?
3. Exchange Contact Information
When the conversation hits its peak and you see that downhill, prepare to flatten it out. The conversation is not over yet. Give customers a clear option to continue their relationship with your company. An easy way to do this is to have one of your reps walk around with an iPad. After your pitch, direct your customer to this rep who can then ask for an email to be put the client on a listserv, or better yet to set up an appointment to further discuss products or services. This gives clients an extra face to attach to your company as well. The more connected they feel, the more likely they will stay engaged in business with you.
4. Raise Awareness Beforehand
Appointments can and should be made before the day of the trade show, which means you need to raise awareness of your presence at the tradeshow before the event even occurs. Some ways to do this are emails, social media posts, and blog posts. Retailers may see something they like and do some research beforehand. They’ll mostly likely come with questions ready.
5. Keep track of the Questions
Keep track of the questions that come your way. At the end of the event, you can compile the questions, see which questions were repeated, and have a clear picture of what you need to communicate better on your website or at the next trade show. Sales aren’t the only thing you can get out of your consumers!
6. Add a Giveaway
Who doesn’t like free stuff? These can be general giveaways like pens with your logo on them -- you can never have enough pens lying around -- or food and drink samples. In addition to small giveaways, try a more selective giveaway as part of your inbound strategy. If clients sit through a 15 minute demo, they get a free tote or beach towel worth $25. Whichever freebie you choose, make sure that it means something to your company’s brand.
7. Follow up
Do it, and do it fast. It sounds pretty commonplace but I can’t emphasize the importance of this crucial step to maintaining customer relations enough. Forbes contributor Ken Krogue revealed a shocking statistic that only 27% of leads ever get contacted. Following-up tells clients that you mean business. Don’t be afraid to be persistent either. While average salesmen make an average of 1.5 phone calls to prospective clients, research shows that this number should be more around six or seven.
Remember, sometimes it simply isn’t beneficial to attend a trade show. Make sure that the profit from the leads you generate will exceed or at least meet the costs of attending the show. If you’re dying to make it to the mecca of all trade show cities, Las Vegas, think twice before you book that flight. While you may want to be in the face of big retailers, the flight, in addition to the hotel, transportation, employee, and booth expenses may not be worth it. Most major cities hold trade shows. Try to find the trade show closest to you. There’s value in being local nowadays.
Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.