There’s nothing more disheartening that returning from a trade show fully aware of the fact that you might as well have stayed at home rather than bothered. Of course, the feeling of disappointment is directly proportional to the amount of money you spent on the thing in the first place, but in all cases you end up feeling like you’re banging your head against a brick wall.
Luckily for those willing to give it another go, success at trade shows can be every bit as simple as following a few golden rules – the ten commandments for getting it right every time. It’s something of a balancing act between your exhibition stand and your overall approach to the thing, but strike the balance right down the middle and you’re golden.
1 – Strength in Numbers
First and foremost, it’s pretty clear to most that standing a trade show with even a half-dozen people can be something of a chaotic experience, so why do some folk insist on turning up solo? You should never, ever stand a trade show alone as you can only ever speak in depth with one person at a time and Lord only knows how much business you’re losing while tied up.
More than one person will help with your show.
2 – Dress for the Occasion
Will it be freezing cold or boiling hot in the event hall? Sadly you’ve got no idea until you turn up – by which point it’s too late to go home and change. So just to be safe, you should assume it could be massively uncomfortable to both extremes and bring appropriate clothes to cope with anything.
3 – Arrive Early
You hope it will all go to plan, but you have to expect it won’t and therefore make allowances for the odd cock-up here and there. The best way to make sure you’re ready for pretty much anything is to arrive a fair while earlier than you think you need to, just to give yourself that extra bit of time in case you leave something behind…like your coworkers, for example.
4 – Make a Checklist and Use It!
What, one of those lame tick-box sheets? Yep – there’s no better way of going through everything you need top to bottom and making sure you haven’t forgotten anything. A spare extension cord in case yours gets fried, fuses for plugs, a first aid kit – basically anything that’s not 100% obvious that you’re 99% likely to forget.
5 – Cut the Clutter
It’s the number-one rule for an effective display stand that’s guaranteed to win over your target audience – avoid clutter at all costs. From cups of tea to bits of food to leaflets all over the place to the tubs containing your sandwiches for later on, a cluttered and messy stand is a massive turn-off and takes away from anything of genuine interest you have to say or offer.
6 – Don’t Be Shy
There’s a good chance you’ll need to ask your neighbours for a favour at some point or they might need to call on you, so be sure to make friends early on and break the ice in a big way. The more allies you have around you, the better your chances of surviving if you end up in a spot of bother during the event. Seek the advice of a trade shows organiser like RAL Display to boost your event prospects further.
7 – Reel it in
What happens in the local shopping centre when the guy with the leaflets bounds your way with a big smile and a sales pitch? That’s right – you bolt in the opposite direction before ever finding out what he as offering you. And that’s the lesson to learn for the trade show – try too hard to reel in the punters and they’ll feel so pressured, they’ll head elsewhere.
8 – Focus on Firm Interests
You will be forced to prioritise between visitors if and when your stand gets busy, so it’s important to develop an eye for who’s a firm interest and who’s just there to kill time or steal your pens. Don’t ever be afraid to dedicate a disproportionate amount of time to those of most value to you.
9 – Give a Card, Take a Card
Chances are you’ll be so very keen to give out business cards that you’ll forget that it’s probably of more interest to you to take their cards to put in your contact directory. If you can’t ask in person because you’re too busy, set out a box for visitors to drop their cards in.
Have business cards ready to give out.
10 – Remember It Is Just Step One
And finally, never forget that the trade show is just one step in the process of winning new punters – you’ll need to follow up every single lead in a professional and prompt manner in order to convert any visits into something workable.