Business success is based on consumer knowledge. If a business is unknown to customers, it cannot become successful. Customers will not seek out your business. They will gravitate toward those that are familiar, visible, and readily available to them. Get out there and make your business known! How do you do that? Traditional advertising and promotions are still a vital function for the success of any business. There are many ways in which you can promote and advertise your brand. Participating in trade shows is one function that is a particularly effective method of promoting your business.
Business trade shows or other exhibiting opportunities present a wealth of opportunities to promote businesses, your brand, and your products and services. They are also a great way to interact and engage face-to-face with current and potential customers. Attendees of trade shows have a genuine interest in the products and services on display. Why else would they attend such an event? Use this opportunity to gain valuable sales leads by effectively marketing at trade shows.
7 Tips to Market Your Business Effectively at Trade Shows
1) Attention. Attract attendees to your booth through banners, banner stands, giveaways, contests or prize drawings, literature, and interactive elements such as touch screens to gather customer information, demostrate a product, or conduct a survey. Choose a unique theme for your booth and make it interesting, fun, and engaging. Key sales and marketing messages, eye-catching signage, informative literature, appealing giveaways, and engaging elements will generate a higher volume of booth traffic.
2) Research. While it is important to thoroughly plan your trade show booth, it is equally as important to conduct some research long before trade shows take place. Determine which trade shows are appropriate for your business sales and marketing goals. Carefully evaluate the details of each trade show including: the number of businesses who exhibit, the average number of attendees (potential customers), attendee demographics by job function, and so on. If possible, interview businesses who have exhibited in past years, and ask for their feedback and opinions about the event. Exhibiting at trade shows can be costly. You need to research all details and gauge which trade shows will yield the highest return on investment.
3) Registration. Once you have decided which trade shows to participate in, register as early as possible. Many trade show organizers allow easy registration online and some offer advanced registration discounts, saving your company hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars.
4) Objectives. Set objectives for yourself and for your trade show booth staff. Create a list of objectives in order of their importance. Staff discussions should yield methods of achieving those objectives and help everyone to focus on achieving the most important ones. Examples of objectives could be: collect “X” number of sales leads with a leads qualification survey; coordinate “X” number of sales demonstrations; or gather research on competitor brands.
5) Publicity. Advertise your attendance at the trade show through a direct mail piece to confirmed attendees (or a targeted list drawn from the list of confirmed attendees); and announce it on your website, through email campaigns, in newsletters, on your blog, through social media sites, and in email signatures. If you plan to hold a contest or prize drawing to attract more people to your booth, be sure to advertise that too. Let everyone know where your booth will be located so they can find you easily.
6) Contests. A contest or prize drawing is a great way to attract people to your booth. When advertising your attendance at the trade show, ask attendees to visit your booth to complete a leads qualification survey and be entered into the contest or prize drawing. Choose a prize that relates to your business, products, or services; or a prize that has broad appeal to your current and potential customers. For example: if you sell survey software or survey research services, the prize could be a device to administer surveys such as an iPad or a tablet PC to conduct mobile surveys; or the prize could be a copy of the survey software so the winner can create and administer their own surveys. This is a great way to gain prospective customers. Follow-up with all contacts shortly following the trade show.
7) Preparation. Be sure to bring a good amount of supplies to the trade show so you do not run out of important literature, brochures, business cards, and giveaways. Review your research to know the number of attendees. Calculate a percentage of those attendees who may visit your booth and bring that number of materials. Realistically, not every attendee will visit your booth. Additionally, generate enthusiasm with all staff that will be representing your company at your booth. Make sure they are knowledgeable about the company, current and new products and services, market trends, and competitors, so they can carry on an intelligent conversation with prospective customers. Encourage them to interact and engage with attendees, gather contact information with the leads qualification survey, and visit competitor booths.