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You're Going To A Trade Show! Now What?
At last! Your product has been selling reasonably well but you believe that you would like to drum up more business. What better opportunity than to feature it in a trade show? A big indoor arena with thousands of waiting customers all lining up outside your trade show booth, eyeing that custom display, each one of them with their checkbooks out.
Or maybe you've been invited to go to a trade show. You like to mingle with people, so why not go? All you have to do is book a seat on the plane and your hotel room and spend a few hours eyeing those trade show displays, flirting with the reps at the booths and chatting up potential clients.
If only it were that easy.
Preparing for a trade show, especially your very first, is not as easy as it seems on the surface. For vendors, the keys are to have a worthwhile product to sell, having an eye catching custom display and having a good location (though giving away free stuff can only benefit you too, especially if your product is either alcohol or food). For representatives and buyers, having a professional appearance is the equivalent of ten trade show booths.
... vendors and representatives can benefit from having a plan. For vendors, this can be complex. A good blueprint includes a map of all trade show booths and your own booth, including custom pieces. If there is more than one person manning the booth, having a written list of things such as how many hours worked, who will be doing what where and the break times, should be included. Have both a "plan b" and "plan c". It will save you from a heart attack should something happen. For representatives, your plan may be less complex. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential clients at any show. In your plan, you should have a list of at least fifteen to twenty potential clients that you wish to meet with during the various seminars and events. Be as polite as possible. Always introduce yourself as "Hi, I'm Tina Smith. I come from XYZ Company and we're offering…"
You should also have business cards. If you are meeting with potential clients, they will not just want to have your phone number. Your card should include all relevant contact information, including your company's social marketing outlets. Does your company not have any? Create some. In today's rapidly evolving markets, not having any social marketing outlets will make your company appear passé, and this goes for both vendors and representatives too. You want to make your company seem as exciting as possible beyond the flashy trade show booths. You want your customers to be as excited about your product as you are. Have them look beyond the fancy trade show displays at your product.
Once the show is over, it may seem you're off the hook, but in actuality, you're not. Both vendors and representatives should have lists of names to call. A key point to remember is not to wait too long. The longer you wait, the more likely your customer or client will not remember you. Use your name and the name of your company.
Your product and company may be awesome but it is the not the company with the flashiest trade show displays or the most elements in a custom display or even the most stuff that wins customers over in the end. It is the politely firm companies who offer a worthwhile product that win the contracts in the end.
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