The Trade Show Industry: Its Biggest Problems And Simple Fixes
Trade shows can be a great boost for your business—new leads, networking with others, and high visibility are all results from a good show.
But we’ve all been to that one show: the one where people who are supposed to be coordinating are wandering around like they’ve been lobotomized, no one seems to know where anything is, and you’re pretty much left to fend for yourself. Most of us have enough experience to handle situations like this, but it does make the industry look bad.
There are some solutions, though—not just for trade show planners, but for attendees as well.
1. Spring for the right personnel if you’re planning a trade show.
Don’t just throw an ad in the paper or on Craigslist for warm bodies; take the time to hire people who are used to thinking on the fly and have management experience. Theater arts majors from your local college are perfect for this sort of thing. You might pay a little more, but it’s worth it to provide a good experience for your guests. Bad reviews, on the other hand, can spread like wildfire.
2. Don’t cut corners.
This applies both to trade show planners and exhibitors. If you’re going to be visible, do it right. Nothing looks worse or sadder than a show or booth that appears to be an advertisement for the local dollar store’s decorations aisle. Take the time to plan out what needs to be done and spend the money to do it.
3. Follow up after the show.
If you’re in charge of the trade show, check in with the people who were at the show and ask them about their experience. If they respond with generally good reviews and some suggestions, you’re doing your job well. If their responses contain lots of profanity, it’s time to rethink your approach.
If you have a booth, remember to follow up on your leads from the show. Just because you gave them printed materials doesn’t mean they’ll automatically remember you; keep in mind that you’re not the only company there. Make sure that you get contact information and follow up either by e-mail or even old-fashioned snail mail.
4. Make it simple.
Again, this applies to both organizers and exhibitors. Don’t make dealing with potential customers harder than it has to be. For organizers, streamline the process as much as possible; don’t make signing up for a booth like doing corporate tax forms. Make the system clear and make sure that there’s a specific contact person in case someone begins to panic. Most problems can be solved very quickly if your contact is on top of their game.
For exhibitors, remember that you don’t need a lot of information for a lead—just basic information. If they’ve stopped by your booth, it’s because they’re interested in your product. So don’t drive them away by turning it into an interrogation for their life story. Get their info, be friendly, and talk about your product.
Trade shows can be great for both organizers and companies, but they can also make the DMV seem like Disneyland if done wrong. With basic planning and coordination, the experience can be pleasant rather than horrific making it better for everyone involved.