Yikes! The trade show you’ve signed up to exhibit at is only a week away, and you’re not sure you’re completely ready. Don’t panic. I’m here to help.
I’ve teamed up with Staples to help make sure your trade show is a success, no matter how soon it’s coming. What’s a success? You build brand awareness for your company, find leads for new prospects, and hopefully, land some new customers.
If your trade show or conference is coming soon, ideally, by now you’ve ordered your booth table cover, banner and banner stand, and had your brochures, catalogs and business cards printed. But don’t worry if you haven’t. You can get many of these printed last minute at Staples.
Your trade show is in another city and you don’t have time to ship your trade show marketing materials? Here’s a hint: take an extra suitcase with your trade show materials or pick them up from the local Staples in your destination city. If you do have time for shipping, Staples.com offers free delivery directly to the hotel you’ll be staying at.
What are your other last-minute trade show activities?
- Make appointments with any top prospects and customers. If you know of current customers or hot prospects who are attending the show and you want to be sure to see them, set up times now.
- Plan any entertainment. Trade shows are the perfect time to “wine-and-dine” your best customers. Make arrangements now.
- Go through a checklist of items you’ll bring to the show and your trade show to-do list. You don’t want to forget anything.
- Send out a pre-show email if you have a list of pre-registrants, reminding attendees to stop by your booth and letting them know of any show specials.
- Practice setting up your booth—is anything missing from your display? Figure that out now, not the first day of the show when you’re on the trade show floor.
- Locate the Staples closest to the trade show venue. Bring a flashdrive with copies of all your marketing materials. You may need to print off extra marketing materials during the show.
You’ve got a couple of other last-minute tasks, too.
Most importantly, make sure you have a good way to follow up with prospects, of capturing their information while at your booth. In my company, we use what we call a “trade show tracker.” It’s a simple bound journal. We bring the notebook, a stapler, and lots of pens, and we staple in each business card on a page of the journal, with notes about what the prospect was interested in or follow up we need to do once we’re back at the office. That way we have all those business cards in one place rather than an unwieldly stack. You could also purchase a business card reader.
Train all your booth workers on how to succeed when at the booth:
- Stand in front or the side of your table or booth. Don’t sit when there are lots of attendees in the exhibit hall. Sitting gives the impression you don’t want to be bothered, and your table becomes a barrier between you and passing attendees.
- Position your banner and banner stand to be seen. That’s usually to one side of your table or booth. Make sure it’s facing the direction most attendees will be coming from.
- Interact with people walking by. But don’t be too aggressive. No one wants to feel like they’re being attacked when they walk by your exhibit. To start a conversation, simply make eye contact, say hello, or nicely hand them your brochure or, even better, a give-away “swag.”
- Move around, a bit. Standing in one spot for a long time is tiring, and it also makes you appear rigid and inflexible. Changing positions frequently is good for your body and increases your chances of making eye contact with more attendees.
- Capture contact info. You can’t turn an attendee into a lead, and a lead into a customer, without knowing how to get in touch with them again.
Be sure to practice your banter and your pitch. When you’re getting a conversation started with a prospect, engaging the attendee matters more than the specific content of your questions. Ask someone how they’re enjoying the show, notice what city they’re from if it’s on their name tag, always be positive. Ask them about their company, their needs. People respond more positively to someone who sounds sincerely interested in who they are and what they need.
Know your “elevator pitch”—a short, compelling description of your product or service that relates to the attendees at your trade show. Try it out on some family or friends. Practice it!
With just a bit of planning, you can turn your trade show experience into a success, no matter how soon your trade show is coming.
Sponsored by @Staples but all opinions are my own.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017