Attending and exhibiting at trade shows in your industry is a great way to connect to potential business partners and customers. Before planning the event, understand what you want to get out of the trade show.
Many businesses, especially those that are technical or industrial in nature, can benefit from attending trade shows and conferences. Not only do these events provide opportunities for education and updates on tools available in your market, but they also allow you to meet a variety of people, many of whom you can build relationships with after the event.
Attending Trade Shows
The most affordable way to get benefits out of trade shows is to simply attend them. Tickets for conference events vary, depending on the event, but usually cost a few hundred dollars to several thousand. This will get you access to the exhibit floor and seminars. Often, meals are included in the fee.
Walking around the exhibit hall can help you find new tools to grow your business. Often, companies offering technology, marketing and sales innovations display their services and give you the opportunity to ask questions about how it can help your brand. Depending on what you do, you may find business partners or even customers in the exhibit hall.
The seminars and educational sessions provide you the opportunity to learn new skills related to your industry, and see speakers who are experts in your field.
A more expensive option, but one that helps you more easily find potential customers, is exhbiting at a trade show. This usually costs a minimum of $10,000, including exhibition fees and your cost for decorating your space. The benefit in exhibiting is that people who are interested in your product stop by your booth, and you have the opportunity to collect their data to follow up on later. Most trade shows provde a small scanning device you can use to scan attendees' lanyards, which gives you their contact information.
Your exhibit booth should deliver the message you want to aim at attendees. If you're launching a new product for veterinarians and are attending a vet conference, make sure your banner and marketing collateral talk about the benefits of the product.
Setting Your Strategy
Before you attend a trade show, it's important to decide on your strategy. What do you hope to achieve by attending? If you're looking to sign on 100 new customers on the spot, you will likely be disappointed. The best goal for exhibiting at or attending a trade show is to get potential customer data so you can enter them into the sales funnel. You may set the goal of finding a new hire at a trade show, or a new supplier who can offer you better rates than your current one. Identify your goals, and share them with your team.
Next, identify who you will need to take from your team to make the trip successful. You will likely need at least one member from the sales team to talk to potential customers, and maybe someone to help with logistics (running to office supply store for last minute items). Keep your budget in mind, and only bring those team members who are essential.
After the Show
Afterward, sort through the contact information you received, as well as any business cards you received. Follow up with everyone, either through email or a handwritten note -- or both. Make sure to send any presentations or other digital files you may have promised people, and work to set up calls or meetings with interested potential clients.
A trade show can provide a smart way to market your business, meet new contacts and find new customers.