For those in B2B sales, trade shows may feel like just one more thing you have to do in an already busy month. And those with this mentality are normally the first businesses to be forgotten about at the show.
Not that they don't have my sympathies: It can be frustrating when you're trying to stand out among so many other vendors, especially when it feels as if everyone has thought of something more creative than you.
But, if you're ready to give trade shows another try, here are a few tips to capture the attention of potential customers.
1. Start before the trade show.
The time to advertise to clients and prospective customers that you'll be at a trade show is a couple of weeks-to-a month in advance of the event. Your social media posts and email blasts do not have to be full of mysterious (and obnoxious) hints that promise the world. Instead, simply inform your contacts that you'll be there and that your booth will be worth visiting.
Also find out who the other vendors in attendance will be, as well as the physical conditions of your booth or space. This information can help you plan how to configure your setup. You may even want to collaborate with your neighbors if you have complementary products or services and overlapping customers. By combining resources or themes, you may make more of a splash.
A report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) stated that 81 percent of trade show attendees surveyed said they had buying authority; to capitalize on this opportunity yourself, you’ll want to invest heavily in early outreach.
2. Offer an activity.
Trade show attendees want an interactive experience with your brand, not a standing sales pitch. So, when people approach your booth, be ready to offer them an activity, whether it be a game or a product demo they can play with. Just make sure the activity is aligned with your brand.
For instance, a venture capital (VC) firm eager to connect with promising entrepreneurs walking around a trade show floor can offer passersby a BuzzFeed-like quiz, which will reveal what type of entrepreneur they actually are, along with information about how the VC firm’s team and fund can help startups like theirs grow.
Software companies can build special product demos that very clearly show prospects how much they can gain by using their product or the money or time they can save with it. Using an activity, you keep the interaction light and upbeat while leaving prospects with a fun memory.
3. Provide social proof.
Draw attendees in when you show marketing materials that highlight customer case studies and testimonials.
Many trade show participants may be unfamiliar with your brand or product; so, to establish credibility, share a short list of your most well-known clients. Or, brag about some of the awards your company has received. Call out some of the media publications your product or service has been mentioned in. Even showcase your portfolio of past work with customers.
Use any form of social proof you can to differentiate yourself from the other vendors.
4. Review your strengths.
It's easy to want to copy what other companies are doing, because they've already made a big splash. However, put some thought in. You may be wise to have a meeting with your team to discuss your strategy before the trade show, outlining the particular messages you want to convey.
Regardless of how boring or exciting your product is, there are ways to get noticed at trade shows, if you plan correctly. Do not simply view the trade show as a competition, but rather a place to showcase what you do better than anyone else.