Tips on how to exhibit at tradeshows in the USA or anywhere really.
Whether you’re a tradeshow virgin or veteran, Lucy Wildman from Module Marketing has some tried and tested tips to eliminate the headache and anxiety that exhibiting at overseas trade shows inevitably brings. She gives some pointers on how to exhibit in the USA or other markets abroad.
Exhibiting at local trade shows is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Throw in international travel, hotel rooms, taxi fares, food and a myriad of other expenses and you’re looking at a significant time and cost investment for your business.
Your goal in attending a show should be to develop relationships with current buyers and stockists and establish connections with new and prospective customers. Buying space at a show is the easy bit. The real hard yards are around pre-show preparation, show management and attendance. Making sure that your time and effort there really counts. Oh, and making a good impression.
Setting measurable objectives
Establishing goals and objectives before the show is one of the most important undertakings you can do as a business owner. It seems pretty basic, but assigning a means of evaluation will give your team something to aim for and keep everyone rowing in the same direction. This could be a sales-related number or another quantitative measure, such as how many email addresses you get for your database or meetings with suppliers you make. Set measurable objectives before the event and stick to them.
Quality is always a better indicator than quantity
The quality of traffic to your tradeshow booth wins over quantity every time. People tend to think that a successful tradeshow is one where you have 5000 people walking past your booth. We’re here to tell you they’re wrong! Foot traffic is good for people-watching, not so good if the buyers aren’t interested at stopping by your booth. Don’t be swayed by the size of the tradeshow – it’s more important to know who will be attending it.
The single most important thing
If I can stress one thing, it’s that pre-show marketing is the most important activity you and your team need to focus on. Don’t think it’s a case of build it and they will come; securing the right kind of traffic to your booth starts long before the tradeshow. We can take you through this more in-depth if you’re interested, but at basic level it includes email blasts, direct mail outs, LinkedIn contacts and some other good stuff. Long before you set foot on that long-haul plane flight, you should have defined the buyers you want to come to your booth and targeted them specifically. Ideally you would have confirmed appointments with them and know exactly when to expect them to visit your booth.
Make your booth appealing
Less is always more when it comes to booth set-up and display. When you think about it, buyers are bombarded with visual stimuli from the time they walk through the tradeshow doors, often spending hours just walking the aisles. So how can you stand out from the rest? Challenge yourself to present your brand or product in the most clean and cohesive way possible. Do you need your logo blasted on every single banner? Probably not. You should have handful of “hero shots”, say five or six, that depict the flavour of your brand accurately. You have a matter of seconds to make an impression on the buyer before they make a judgement. Make it count.
Reach out to buyers quickly
You’ve shown your product to the buyer, they have your linelist and pricing, you have their business card. Now what? Following up with a quick email to the buyer shortly after you have met them is the best way to reinforce the connection and maintain top of mind awareness. We suggest this takes place within two days of the show closing but sooner is always better – it could even be that night when you’re back in your hotel room reviewing the day’s activities and debriefing with your team.
When your business is spending the time, money and effort to exhibit at a trade show, make sure it counts!
Lucy Wildman and Francis Frost are directors of Module Marketing, an export marketing agency delivering results through marketing, communications and strategic thinking, brand development and positioning through an intimate understanding of global markets. They know first-hand about trade shows, having shown numerous times with their Little Flock of Horrors childrens’ wear label (which is stocked internationally, including at high-end Barney’s New York).