Trade shows can draw in new clients, increase your business, and get your name out there. If you aren’t properly prepared, however, they can also be a horrific waste of time, energy, resources. Before you pick up the phone to schedule your next show, take this quiz to ensure that you’re really ready.
Do you have the budget?
Trade shows aren’t free. There are the fees for getting into the exhibit, the cost of employees to man the booth, money to purchase the items you’ll give out, bills for the promotional banners for your table, and more. Sure, you can try to do the show on the cheap, but this can leave a bad impression with potential customers. Remember, you need to look professional and compete with other booths around you; sadly, hand written signs on poster board just aren’t going to get the job done.
Do you know your target audience?
Let’s play a little situation out in your mind: you schedule the trade show, set up your table, attractively arrange your swag, and then no one comes to your booth. The entire trade show, you sit in total boredom wondering what went wrong. Odds are, you didn’t know your target audience. Maybe your booth didn’t appeal to them, your pre-show advertising wasn’t effective, or it’s possible you simply went to all that effort for a trade show that won’t have anyone who is interested in your services. This is why you need to know your target audience: what they like, what attracts them, and what events they will attend.
Do you have more than pens to give out?
Just about everyone who attends trade shows expects to receive ridiculous amounts of swag, so it’s a great idea to have something to send customers away with. However, it’s important that you don’t try to outspend companies who may have an endless budget. Rather, get creative with your swag. In fact, sometimes the best swag doesn’t cost you a dime: you could give out a free newsletter you produce with important advice, a coupon for a free consultation, or take photos of those who visit your booth with a funny cut-out. In fact, taking photos is a great way to get your customers email address; you’ll need it to send the photo to them later on. The point is, think beyond the pens. Odds are, your customers already have enough pens already.
Do you have the people skills?
Trade shows are about selling yourself. Sure, this is made a little easier since everyone there is interested in buying, but you’ll have to compete with potentially hundreds of other booths there. Some of those booths may be flashier than yours, their products may be cheaper, and they may have expensive give-a-ways. You’ll need to be able to cut through all of that and literally reach out to those passing by. Convince them to stop, even if it’s just to take a pamphlet or sign up for your email newsletter.
If you failed this quiz, then don’t give up. Sure, you may have a little more work than others, but you can get there. Identify the answers you failed, and try to figure out how you can strengthen those areas. If you’re really desperate for help, there are special consultants you can hire to help develop your trade show presence; I wonder if they have a trade show of their own?