7 Ways Your Business Can Benefit from Exhibiting at a Trade Show
Trade shows and exhibitions are a great way of getting your brand out there to the people you really want to notice it. But you need to know what you want before you go in order to get the most out of exhibiting. It’s an expensive business after all. You’ve got travel costs, the cost of hiring an exhibition stand designer (it’s really best to hire a professional – you can always re-use your stand at future events!), equipment costs… not to mention the fact that if you’re a, you might even have to close the office for the day. But the benefits of exhibiting at a trade show are great.
So you need to make sure you attend the right events to match your objectives, and you need to make sure the cost is worth it. Here are 7 ways your business could benefit from exhibiting at a trade show, and how you can make sure you achieve them.
1. Strengthen your relationship with your client base
The main benefit of trade shows and industry events is that you’ve got a ready-made audience. The people attending are likely to be those most interested in your product or service. This may well include some of your existing clients. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face. In an age where so much business is conducted over the phone or via email, people like to know there’s a human face behind the company, and that they can trust you.
Exhibitions can be a really good way to meet your clients. Make sure they know you’re going to be there well in advance. Post on your blog, Twitter, Facebook pages. Send out an email to your contacts list letting them know you’re going to be there, with a map of the venue and your location in the hall.
2. Meet new clients
Exhibitions can be really good places to generate new leads. Talk to as many people as you can. Ask your staff to wander round the venue and chat to people. Make sure you take business cards, or have an email sign up right there on your stand, where people can subscribe to your newsletters and updates.
Remember, this doesn’t end with the event: follow up. Send personal emails out to people, thanking them and arranging to contact them with a proposal. The sooner after the event you do this, the better. Don’t let those leads go cold. Keep in mind that, even if they don’t turn into customers right away, building a relationship and staying in touch with them means they may turn into customers further down the line.
3. Build brand awareness
If you’re a new company, getting your name out there is essential. Taking your business to an exhibition ensures you get seen by those you want to be seen by. Make sure your exhibition stand is eye-catching, and that your marketing messages are clear and consistent across your stand, literature, press pack and staff. Let people know what you do, and get an “elevator pitch” together (sum up your business in 30 seconds or less).
4. Meet industry experts & journalists
Networking is a MAJOR benefit to attending exhibitions. It’s likely there will be industry experts giving talks, or maybe on their own exhibition stands, offering advice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And engage with them via Twitter, using their handles and the event hashtag.
There might also be people from the media there. Prepare a press pack in case, which you can give to journalists. And contact them before the event, letting them know what you’re offering to attendees; if there are any features about the event, you can increase your chances of a mention.
5. Build your corporate identity
A well-designed exhibition stand that reflects your branding and your marketing message can really help when it comes to establishing and building your corporate identity. And having a presence at exhibitions and trade shows ensures that more people can get to know your brand. Make sure that you’re honest and clear in your literature and marketing messages – don’t make promises on the day that you can’t deliver on. Choose graphics, colour and type wisely, and make sure your logo is unique and memorable, and not easily confused with your competitors.
Your exhibition stand is the first encounter some people are going to have with your company, so be sure that it represents you.
6. Showcase your product or service
Make sure your exhibition stand really showcases your product or service. If you’ve got a key product you want to promote, have it placed prominently. Why not offer demonstrations, if you have a product that lends itself? That way, prospective clients can see for themselves how your product works. And the best part? You can get immediate feedback.
Don’t focus on the features, i.e. what your product or service does. Focus on the benefits, i.e. what it can do for the user. Also, ensure your staff are fully briefed on the product and are comfortable answering questions about it.
7. Spy on the competition
Exhibitions and trade shows can offer you a unique opportunity to find out what several your competitors are up to in terms of marketing at once. See what they’re doing in terms of marketing, what their prices are, what products they’re showing off. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Of course, this means they’ll be doing the same to you, so be careful not to let any secrets slip!
To get optimum benefit out of exhibiting at a trade show, you need to know why you’re there. Define your objectives beforehand, and make sure that your staff are aware of them too. Otherwise, you’ll be spending all that money for very little return. And don’t forget that the hard work is only just beginning once the exhibition is over. Remember to follow up on the information you’ve gathered, whether it be new leads, feedback on your products, competitor intelligence or press mentions, otherwise it’s a wasted journey!