Post updated: February 26, 2017
Ready for trade show season? Do you have all your ducks in a row to maximize the opportunity?
Trade shows are unique and crucial event arenas for manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors to showcase and sell their branded goods as well as expand their commercial networks. With trade show season is just around the corner – in North America alone, there will be over 200 trade shows in January – now is the time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
We’ve collected top-5 best practices that will allow your business to maximize results before, during and after a trade show; enabling your brand to stand out from the crowd and you to win more business.
Before – thorough preparation
Determine what to bring
Equip yourself with the essential items that will make your booth prominent and noticeable, using various media and promotional tools - here are 3 to start with:
- Interactive media and content - The use of different forms of media – displayed onflat-screen monitors and tablets – whether it be to present slides, or preferably videos, is always a key ingredient in grabbing customer attention.
- Banner messaging – Short, catchy and memorable. It should effectively portray your brand, with the careful use of graphical elements.
- Table display – Branded giveaways, highly visible in your booth, and easily accessible. Plan to place the larger and more expensive items to the rear of the table, and printed handouts upfront for everyone to collect.
Digital Product Catalog
Once your potential customer approaches your booth, it is key to have an interactive digital catalog on your tablet, showcasing all the products you are offering. Prepare your digital catalog in advance of the trade show, including pricing, promotions, and of course, hi-res images of your cool products. You customers will be impressed. Guaranteed. .
Your target list
Plan which customers you will want to meet with. If they don’t come to your booth, these are the customers that you will hunt down on the event floor and bring to your booth. Reach out to these customers ahead of the show, let them know that you will be exhibiting, and try to schedule appointments to meet with them at the show.
During - Deliver a unique sales experience
Use interactive devices to show off your goods and take more orders
By no means is it easy to draw the right buyers to your booth, especially when you are competing with dozens, sometimes hundreds of exhibitors, on the mindshare of potential customers. Like most consumers, buyers enjoy the experience of interacting with online devices such as tablets or electronic kiosks to explore and learn about products. Let prospective customers interact with your digital catalog; this will develop a more personable sales experience, in which you can wow your customers with stunning, interactive visualization of your goods.
And, if your digital catalog is equipped with mobile order-taking capabilities, you’ll be able to capture the sale in seconds, at the click of a button, without having to process paperwork, call your back office sales ordering department to ask about stock levels, shipping dates, etc. The benefits are obvious: quick, accurate order-taking that enables you to engage more customers at the show, and provides your customers with an outstanding experience.
After - Order fulfillment and follow-up
Picture a customer placing an order for your goods at your booth, then receiving an email with order confirmation and estimated shipping dates before they leave the booth! The order is approved electronically in your back-office within minutes, and fulfillment of the order kicks in, while the customer is still at the tradeshow! Imagine further…your customer arrives back to the office later that week, and the products have already been received at the warehouse. While this efficient ordering and fulfillment process may be mainstream in the B2C retail world, it is far from ordinary at B2B trade shows.
Best of class manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors execute such streamlined order management and fulfillment practices at every trade show they exhibit. They are able to close more business, sell only what they have in stock, process orders with minimum handling errors in minimum time, and ship with no delay. A competitive edge that’s tough to beat and helps them stay ahead of their pack.
Timely follow-up with all qualified leads collected at the event, is essential. A staggering 83 percent of exhibitors do not continue a dialogue with prospective customers. Consider following these few tactics after a show:
- Capture all leads in your CRM system
- Quickly qualify and prioritize your business opportunities
- Follow-up with your leads within 48-hours of the trade show. Strike the iron while it’s hot!
Trade shows are a great venue to promote your company’s goods and image, as well as establish new business connections. With proper planning and execution such events can propel your business rather than remain a business burden. Do you have additional best practices that you follow at trade shows? We’d love to hear from you!