There they are: all your customers and prospects in one place! Must be a trade show!
Trade shows offer an unmatched opportunity to forge new relationships and cement existing ones.
Last week we looked at strategies you should employ prior to the show to help ensure success.
So here you are…in New Orleans, Las Vegas or Topeka. You’ve invested time and money and following are some ways to make the most of it.
1. Put your best foot forward in your booth
Booth design is a vast topic, but whether your budget and presence is large or small, it’s important to consider what happens after the booth is ready. Make sure salespeople are adequately trained and are able to answer questions. Develop a lead capture system so that visitors are incented to share their contact information. Smile, smile, smile. Offer an inviting presence that people will want to visit.
2. Have a giveaway that’s good…but not too good
You want to ensure their visit is motivated by a genuine interest in you, not just to get the iPad you’re giving away (just kidding). But try to be creative and go beyond the pencil, tote bag or coffee mug. Food is always good; or sometimes a service, such as foot massages for weary trade show attendants or a shoe shine. Take advantage of those captive booth visitors by offering a video of your company or service near the chair.
3. Maintain an active social media profile
During the show, live tweet and include the show’s official hashtag. Consider offering something of value to attendees who retweet your content. Keep track of contacts you have met and follow them during the show. But don’t spend so much time on social media that you forget to be social!
4. Choose your sessions strategically
Scout out the ones that not only seem the most relevant, but that perhaps are led by someone with whom you want to connect. Sit up close, take notes, ask questions. Meet the presenter after. Tweet about something you learned. Make sure that others in your company attend different panels so that you can share the information with each other after and expand your knowledge base.
5. Attend every event you can
Trade shows are exhausting, no doubt about it. As tempting as it may be to relax in your room with room service and a movie, the evening social events are often where most of the “business” takes place. Have you heard about companies that are hosting dinners or hospitality suites? Try to score an invite and make sure to mingle and meet.
6. But don’t stay too late – remember to take care of yourself!
The taxing pace of a trade show can exhaust even the most energetic among us! And tomorrow is a new day, with a long day at the booth, or a number of presentations to absorb. You want to make sure you are fresh and well rested. Remember to eat well and drink lots of water throughout the days. If you can fit in even a 20-minute workout early in the morning or before evening events, it will pay off in energy level and focus.
7. Divide and conquer
While it’s tempting to spend time with company mates you know, a trade show is an opportunity for all of you to meet new people. But it’s a great idea to have a brief “touch base” meeting either first thing in the morning or between the day and evening activities. Have the team share what they’ve learned, whom they’ve met and what they suggest for the following day – either for booth best practices or what sessions you each will be attending. Share your top connections: Maybe you’ve met someone from California whom your west coast sales representative should meet.
And finally, don’t forget to enjoy the show! If you approach the show proactively, your presence will pay dividends: It might be through new and strengthened relationships; it might be through new fascinating industry developments you learned about; or it might just be that you are able to return to your office with a fresh eye, after having seen what other professionals in your industry are up to.
As with anything, the work isn’t done when you return to the office. For our final installment in this trade show series, we’ll talk about what to do when you get back. (Besides sleep!)