Trade shows are great for connecting with industry leaders and putting your brand in front of new customers. In this video, learn how to take advantage of what they have to offer.
- Trade shows give businesses an amazing opportunity to connect with new customers. These industry and niche specific events are a gold mine of opportunity. Ranging from small and local to gigantic and international, trade shows are everywhere, and trade shows are so effective because the audience is highly targeted. Attendees are already primed to be interested in your business and typically understand what you do. There's also ample opportunity to connect with key industry influencers, the press, vendors, and potential customers. You can make new friends at trade shows, and also, deepen existing relationships leading to more money in your pocket. To get started, you want to find conferences and trade shows in your industry. After ensuring that your audience will be there, decide if you want to sponsor the event, exhibit, or simply attend. If you aren't sure, you can always contact the event organizers who will work with you to get as many eyes on your brand as possible. Trade shows work because they're so targeted. For example, Viewpoint, a small computer company, was looking for a budget-friendly way to promote its new products. The company went to a large tech trade show where they sponsored a large party and invited hundreds of industry influencers. Now the total cost for the event clocked in at $250,000, which Viewpoint couldn't afford, so they connected with large sponsors like Adobe to cover all of the costs. Well, the result, Viewpoint massively increased sales and connected to hundreds of industry leaders, all for $0. They thought outside the box and simply built their event within an event. Now you can be like this scrappy company and score major attention to trade shows as long as you plan wisely. As you go about starting out, remember to set goals before your trade show. What do you want to get out of the experience? Plan who you'll speak with, what presentations you'll attend, the after parties you'll visit, and more. The goal of any trade show is to make connections. After the excitement and magic of the trade show, however, people often forget to follow up on leads, and this kills your return on investment. Always follow up with contacts from trade shows because these often lead to money-making deals and partnerships, and when you do follow up, make it personal. Some companies take the easy road and do one giant blast to all of their new trade show connections, and this shotgun style of follow-up might get you a few responses, but when it comes to great followup, quality and customization are key. Send personalized emails to your contacts mentioning how you met and what you discussed as well as an invitation for a call or chat. When it comes to costs, it varies. You can simply attend a trade show and network one-on-one for nothing more than the cost of the show, travel, and lodging. In fact, some shows even sell discounted passes if you only want to access their exhibitor hall. I've had tons of success just networking within the exhibitor space. You can strike up conversations with just about anyone, whether they're at a charging station for their phone or navigating between booths. Now if you're planning to exhibit, you're likely going to be looking to spend $10,000 or more for booth space, the display that you require, personnel, lodging, per diem, and travel, and if you do decide to exhibit, be sure you keep a few key items in mind. For starters, read the exhibitor manual. Every show will have a manual that tells you everything you need to know from registration information to floor plans to exhibitor rules, cost for freight, and so on. There are all kinds of hidden charges at trade shows. If you have promotion materials or your booth shipped directly to the venue, you'll likely pay a handling fee, for example. You'll likely also have to pay if you want access to electricity or even wifi. Secondly, don't neglect the time to prepare your booth and your staff. Setting up a booth can take time and things are always missing. So plan ahead. Also, be sure to talk as a team about what your key talking points are, who'll be covering the booth at what times, and clarify roles and responsibilities. And finally, don't overcrowd the booth with printed materials or representatives. A cluttered booth feels uncomfortable. Keep just a few sales items on display and let your representatives pull the necessary assets depending on what attendees are asking for. Also, if you have 10 people standing around a small booth, it looks like the car sales lot. Let your team wander the floor and draw traffic back to the booth. Trade shows are about more than exhibit booths and speaker badges, though. They're your best bet for connecting with industry leaders and putting your brand in front of new customers. Choose the right trade show for your audience and reap the benefits of high quality, genuine connections.
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