As we turn into 2019 and head towards trade show season, I thought it would be interesting to discuss trade shows, and some of the best ways to get the most use from your hard-earned, trade show spending.
First of all, regardless of what everyone seems to think trades shows are not for selling. I’d love to have a dollar for every time I have heard someone say with great disappointment, that they did not get any new customers from going to this or that trade show. Here’s a news bulletin for you, for the most part trade shows are not for selling, they are for branding, they are for being seen, they are for getting your message heard, they are for people to find out who you are and what you do. Oh sure, you will get some business from a trade show once a while, yes, you might get a few new customers, especially when it is a very technology-focused show, one that focuses on a special market segment like microwave or medical, or solar, but for the most part trade shows are designed to brand your company and position it in the marketplace.
Keeping that in mind, it is all that more important to focus on your message, your image, and yes, your brand. Here are a few focus points you should concentrate on when it comes to preparing for a trade show.
- Choose carefully: Is this show going to have the right audience for you? Are the people at the show, those who have spent time and money to attend this particular show, interested in what you are selling? That sounds pretty obvious right? But, its not. Many times, I have seen companies attend a show based on something like geography, rather than market, and when they do that it is a complete waste of time and a lot of money to boot. Make sure you are getting your message in front of the right audience.
- Okay, once you know that you have the right audience, the next thing is to develop the right message for that audience. You want to understand what the companies and their people attending the show are looking for? Why are they attending this show in the first place? And once you know that, develop your message based on their interests and needs.
- Make your message attractive, and appealing, and most of all unique. Chances are very good that yours is not the only company that has done its’ homework. Other companies are exhibiting at this show because they are selling basically the same product as you. In fact, sometimes trade show management likes to group the same types of companies together in the same aisle. So, picture that, image a whole long aisle of a trade show lined with companies just like yours, selling the same products that you do. This situation makes it critical that you come up with your own unique and distinctive message, something that is going to make your booth standout from all of the other similar companies’ booths.
- Be professional. Don’t be different for difference sake. Make you product message stand out. This means no dancing girls or games, or big giveaways. Sure, these things will make your booth standout, but it will not deliver the right message, and it certainly will not do anything to forward your brand. Fill your booth with graphics that tell your company’s story and most importantly highlight your products in all of their uniqueness. Display what makes your product better and do it graphically and dramatically, so that it is your message that is getting the attention rather than meaningless attention getting stunts that in the end will actually end up hurting your company rather that helping it. You want to be remembered for your great products, not by the kind of candy you were giving away.
- Make your giveaways pertinent to your message. The things you give away should represent what you do. If you are in the heavy copper business, then give away some dramatic 18-ounce copper samples, or a micro-book about heavy copper, something that will brand you as the expert in that market. There is no way a Hershey’s kiss can complete with a sample of a heavy copper board to people interesting in heavy copper boards. Once again, not rocket science.
- And finally, learn something. Talk to people ask them what they need. Ask they what they are interested in and what they would like to know more about. Listen and respond. That is really why you are there…to be branded as the absolute product expert in your market. It’s only common sense.