If you intend to be a Trade Show exhibitor or if you wish to visit a Trade Show, Mercatrade.com has compiled for you this useful A to Z guide to get the best of your Trade Show experience.
A for Advertize
Since being an exhibitor in a Trade Show is far from being a neutral decision from a financial point of view, your want to get the best output from this investment.
Advertize on mercatrade.com which Trade Show you are attending and what date.
Contact your clients well in advance to let them know which Trade Show you are attending in order for them to have time to arrange a visit to your booth. Invite them to take an appointment with you in order to plan in advance your Trade Show activities.
At the same time, you can launch an email and mailing campaign to a targeted audience around the event's location to inform new prospects.
In any case, make sure that your audience gets all the details to find the event and your booth location easily.
B for Budget
If you are an exhibitor you have to take into account the location of the event, what is the Booth size you need, the size of the team, how much are ready to pay for your booth design, plan for hotel accommodation and so on.
Make sure to justify your options, for example, a small booth area with a big sale team is proven to be ineffective
As a good business manager you have to compare these costs with your expectations in term of return on Investment before deciding if you want to invest or not in an event.
If you are an attendee who decides to visit a Trade Show in order to meet suppliers, check your inventory needs and budget before coming to the event. Trade Shows are often a great opportunity to drive the costs down by grouping you orders and benefiting special discounts offered by the sellers specifically for the event.
D for Designing your Booth
Your booth needs to be appealing to the visitors. You have to get the visitors' attention so they stop and enter your booth.
Marketing analysis show that human eye is firstly attracted by the upper side of any display. This is where you want to have a question, a statement that creates curiosity to the visitor. Then you could use the other parts of the display to provide more information about your company, your products or services.
However, do not overload your booth with too many pictures and texts that could diffuse your main messaging. Keep your booth simple and right to the point.
E for Estimate your booth size
There is no secret formula to estimate precisely the size of your booth but the following recommendations may help you:
F for Flyers and company information
Prepare enough flyers, company documentation and business cards to give your prospects.
Ideally, you would like to have flyers that are available for pick up by any visitors and more detailed documentations and catalogs that are distributed to your qualifying prospects only.
Place the first ones so they are accessible by anybody inside your booth (you want to make them come in). Hide the more expensive documentation and catalogs so it is given to your potential clients after they have received a detailed presentation by your sales team.
You can estimate the volume of documentation needed by the event's expected visitors. This information is usually made available to you far in advance by the Trade Show management.
G for Goals
What are the objectives you expect from a Trade Show? This is the main question you have to ask yourself before deciding to attend a Trade Show as an exhibitor or as an attendee. Being clear about your goals will help you measure the effectiveness of your Trade Show campaign and will give you a better background to decide whether attending this event or a similar event in the future.
H for Hotel Rooms
Logistics are very important when attending a Trade Show. Several parameters drive your decision to select a hotel during your stay at the Trade Show Location:
I for Interaction
At Trade Shows, you are competing for the attention of the visitors with other exhibitors. Creating the event inside the event is always a good solution to attract potential prospects. Be creative in attracting a crowd around your booth by having interactive tools, visual demos, contest and so on. The crowd will attract more crowd and you want visitors to remember your company and what you have to offer.
J for Junk
Do not leave junk on your booth! Keep your exhibition space clean all the time. If you can afford it, one staff member should be dedicated to that task. Remember that your booth is a representation of your company. By keeping it tidy and neat, you will send a message of seriousness to visitors and attract more prospects.
K for Kit
Have a Press Kit ready for the different Medias covering the Trade Show. Includes different format (Summary of company profile / detailed company profile / Products or Services offer / Featured product etc.) and supports (Soft Copy / Hard Copy). Having a press kit well done and easy to use is a great way to get more and free exposure.
L for Lead Sheet
The Lead Sheet is the most important Salesman' tool! This is the document where you fill up all the basic information and specific information about a prospect.
Build this form ahead of the Trade Show and make sure that you have enough copies for the all the event. Make it clear since the information it contains are important for the follow up of the Trade Show.
Make sure you have all the tools with you to make this task easy. For example, have a stapler with you to join your prospects' business card to the form.
Be rigorous in filling up the Lead Sheet all the time and be clear regarding the clients interests.
After the Trade Show use the Lead Sheet to proceed to an effective follow up. Do not let too much time between the event and your first contact. Make sure that you contact the prospect yourself.
M for Meeting Room
As an exhibitor you may wish to use the Trade Show to have a working space with your team to prepare the working day, debrief after the Trade Show or to receive your clients in a decent working place.
Book your meeting room far in advance since there is a lot of request for these facilities. Benchmarking the hotel catering service against local catering service could be a great source of saving. Before coming to the event verify with the Hotel and your contractors that all your arrangements are in order.
N for Networking
Trade Shows or Conferences are an opportunity to grow your network of business contacts. Do not run short on business cards and your company flyers. Organize your contacts in categories relevant to you. Take some notes about the person you meet. Remember, small details make a big difference, the more you know about your prospects, your competitors or your suppliers the easier it will be to obtain the right deal.
O for Organizer
Trade Show or Conference organizers are a great source of information that you need to contact. They can provide precious information like: what is the profile of their attendees? How many visitors did the show have last year? How many exhibitors are expected? How the Trade Show space will be distributed? Are there any conferences for which you can be an orator?
Most of the Show organizers also provide you with a list of companies that can help you with your logistics at the event (catering, cleaning, setting up your booth, shipping of your orders, etc.)
P for Plan my Trade Show
Attending a Trade Show needs project management. List and plan your tasks. Once you are at the event you should only focus on finding potential customers or suppliers.
Planning the Trade Show by scheduling as many appointments as you can before the event allows you to take the most of your Trade Show attendance.
Q for Qualifying prospect
A Qualifying prospect is a customer profile that you set up before the event and with whom you plan to spend some time explaining your offer with the ultimate goal to achieve a sale.
Knowing that a salesperson needs to spend around 15 minutes with a customer to explain in detail your offer and catching his/her interest, each staff member will have about 35 to 40 detailed discussions per day. This is not a lot; this is why it is recommended to set up a set of questions to help you identify qualifying prospect from other visitors in order to maximize the time you spend with your target.
Questions such as they following may help you select a qualifying prospect:
R for Rest
Standing up all day at a Trade Show is an exhausting activity. At the end of the day, go rest at your hotel. Remember, you need to be fully operational the next day.
S for Seminar and conference
If your run a business service company, attending or participating in Seminars and Conferences are always a good opportunity to promote your company and to sell your expertise in your field. Moreover, seminars and conferences are often sponsored by media companies and ensure high quality coverage of the event.
Like Trade Show, the list of seminars and conferences is huge; however the subject they cover is very precise. This guarantees the presence of qualifying prospects with whom you will be able to spend some time and build business relationships.
When you find an event that matches your business industry, a smart move is to contact the conference organizer and to propose to present about one of the topic in your field of expertise. If this works, it is an inexpensive and efficient way to promote your company to qualifying prospects.
T for Time
Trade Show are a short event and regarding your company's investment, your time is precious. Be ready to sell at all time. When there is no visitor on your booth, use this spare time to clean what has to be clean, to review and classify your lead sheets or organize your team to move around the event to prospect for more contacts.
When somebody is interested in your company, engage him actively but in a friendly fashion in order to assess quickly if he/she has the profile of a qualifying prospect.
U for Unattended
Do not leave your booth unattended. Your Trade Show exhibit is the face of your company in the Trade Show. Leaving it unattended gives bad impression to the visitors and of course prevents you from meeting potential clients.
V for Verify
Few days before joining the Trade Show, make sure that all the logistics arrangements that you put in place have been or will be fully fulfilled by your contractors. The last thing you want is to spend all your time solving problems that could have been anticipated.
W for What to wear
Booth staffs represent the image of your company in the Trade Show. Wear business clothing in line with your industry standards.
Remember that you will be standing up all day, so bring comfortable shoes.
If you are an attendee, avoid shoulder bag and privilege small rolling suitcases where you can put any kind of documentation, samples and presents.
X for XYZ Company
Be cautious when writing down company details. You have one opportunity only and a small mistake can ruin big efforts. If possible let your prospect review your notes in order to avoid any misunderstanding. This is mostly recommended when you are dealing with clients who do not have the same mother tongue as you.
Y for Year in advance
Planning Trade Shows at least one year in advance is necessary for budgeting purposes, for setting up your goals, to measure the outputs of previous events in order to decide whether to attend the year after or not and to gather information if you contemplate to attend new Trade Show
Z for Zone
Make sure that when they stop by, visitors enter your booth zone. They have to feel welcome in your booth. Let them be surrounded by your company environment, it is easier to start talking about what are your visitor's needs and what your company has to offer.
You can also find tradeshows in Latin America on mercatrade