Business Trade Shows Part II: During the Event

Business Trade Shows Part II: During the Event 

I want thiiiiis many sales from the show today, guys! 

We're back. In the last post, we talked about building momentum toward a trade show exhibition. Today, let's look at your efforts during the show itself.

You already should have sent out a reminder the morning of the show in posts on all your social media accounts, an article on your website blog, and a general email that you're exhibiting. If you haven't already done that, it's not too late, but do it NOW, because it is time to work the booth.

First, recognize that your goal is to use this show to develop as large a list of prospects as possible. In most cases, trade shows are for showing off what you have for sale at the shop, not selling that widget to the 50 people that stop to say hello. This means you should probably focus on networking rather than selling. You not only want visitors at the booth, but their contact information too. The proven way to get attendees contact information is to offer them something for free, or run a contest for something worthwhile. Most booths will offer some giveaway merch, coffee mug, etc. at the booth if visitors sign a contact info sheet or drop a business card into a jar. People can't resist free stuff, no matter how much they don't need another mug or could afford to buy them on their own by the caseload. Therefore, have giveaways.  

You can also run a contest for those willing to take the time for a demo of your product or service. If they will take the extra step, enter them into a raffle for something of greater value, such as an iPad, a free entry level product, or an hour of your consulting time.

If anyone shows special interest, keep your non-exhibit hours open to schedule meetings for coffee or a demo. Maybe keep a ledger handy, or your calendar app on the home screen, so you can schedule with people in person. 

Beyond getting prospects contact information, use the show for broader networking. Work the other booths and introduce yourself to other exhibitors to get your name known. You can never do enough networking, and you never know when it might pay off. If you have competition present, do a little covert reconnaissance (nothing illegal!) and see what they're up to. If there are vendors present that occupy an adjacent vertical to you, see if there is an opportunity for some cross marketing or cooperation. If the exhibitor entrance fee does not include entrance to other networking events such as meals and meet-and-greet-happy-hours, consider buying a ticket for access. These often offer additional opportunities to network. 

Finally, don't forget social media. Throughout the show, post pics of yourself with clients or prospects who visited your booth. You can even use the event hashtag (if they have one) to help your business generate buzz! If your social media buzz is high enough, maybe you can start the hashtag, or get a couple other vendors involved to start one. 

Next time, we'll talk about what to do once you get back to the office.


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