5 Tips To Make Your Next Trade Show a Success 

Trade shows can be intimidating for some business owners, especially if you run a B2B operation. The competition is stiff, the setting can be overwhelming, and your time frame to a network is limited. But this is also your time to show where your company shines, and because trade shows are a big investment, you want to know you did your due diligence in making yours a success. Here are 5 rules to follow at your next trade show if you want to stand out, make solid connections and get new leads.

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  1. Make a Plan

Like anything you do for your business, you want to be prepared for a trade show well ahead of time. Line up your travel dates with your team and make sure everyone is coordinated and on task. Start your email campaign at least 6 weeks in advance so your audience knows you’re going to be there. Find out what space itself looks like and imagine your set up, and if possible, find out who else is going to be there. If you’re launching a new product, then, by all means, plan your strategy and know-how you’ll announce it at the show. And don’t forget that every step of planning should involve your team! You are in business for yourself, but no by yourself. Communication is key at large events, especially ones that affect your ROI.

  1. Appearances Are Everything

The worst thing you can do at a trade show looks cheap or unprepared. This is a time when you want to look polished and professional, so pay attention to details like what type of signs and banners you’re using and how your table setup looks. You do not need to go overboard here, just make a small investment. A quality table cover that holds its form well or a well-designed banner with high-quality graphics are details that will send the message “we are professional and funded.” And if you’ve studied marketing, you know these visual cues can make all the difference in the way people perceive your brand.

  1. Give it Away

Give something away. Anything, really. Everyone loves something for free and there’s no better opportunity than a trade show to cash in on a giveaway. You can get creative and order custom window clings or print your logo on labels and stick them to free jars of jam. Or, simply bring fresh coffee and pour everyone a cup. People are more likely to give you their time and attention when you’re offering them something for free, so seize the opportunity to chat up your next lead over a shot of espresso or cucumber-infused water.

  1. Capitalize on Social Media

In the weeks leading up to the event, be extra active on social media. Mention the event in a sentence or two at the end of your LinkedIn posts. Write and share blog posts about your company’s brand story and timeline, and don’t be shy about getting personal about your business. Share your vision. Social media is where you get to show the human side of your business, and it’s what inspires people. It can’t ALL be about numbers and sales. When your followers meet you in person, they’ll know your name, not your profit margins.

  1. Follow Up After The Show

This is one of the most crucial rules of the trade show game and one most people forget. After the show, follow up with your leads. Don’t be overly aggressive here (read: desperate), but be diligent, consistent, and have good follow-through. The whole point of a trade show, after all, is to generate new sales leads. Make sure your CRM is updated with the names and contact information you acquired and share this with your team. It’s also a good idea to hold a post-trade show follow-up meeting with your team to discuss how the event went, what succeeded, and what you would change next time. Loop in your marketing team, too. There’s no better time to start preparing for your trade show than right after the one you just attended.

Let the show begin!

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