Attending a trade show is a great idea to help your business. You find products, information and connections all in one place, which can be an effective way to help your business. But it’s not as easy as just showing up. In fact, a trade show can be a bad experience if you don’t know what to expect. “It’s such a sensory environment,” says Susan Friedmann, The Trade Show Coach. “Between all the sounds and visuals, you are just overwhelmed with messages coming at you ever which way.”
Much like going to an amusement park with rides you want to ride, if you don’t have a plan for a tradeshow, you can be easily distracted. “That’s why the more focused you are in this environment, the less easily you are going to be distracted from what your real mission is because it’s really easy to go off course,” she says. – Brian Horn
- Set goals. Once you made the decision to go the show, what are you going to get out of it? “It’s got to be quantifiable. It’s not a lot of leads, I just want to see people, stuff like that,” Friedmann says. “That’s not measurable, but something quantifiable,” she says, such as collecting 50 leads that turn into 10 industry connections.
- Preparing yourself. National shows are pretty big, so you need to have a plan because, as an attendee, you aren’t going to go around and see everybody. So, it’s very good for you to do your homework before hand and find out which exhibitors interest you.” Friedmann suggest you make two lists; the must sees and the want to sees.
- Have specific questions. Exhibitors are like used car salesmen trying to get you in the booth and make a sale. If an attendee wants specific information, they need to know what they want before the show, so have questions in mind to ask and keep the exhibitor on the topic you in which you inquired.
- Only take literature that is pertinent. “Don’t allow people to just dump you with stuff,” Friedmann says. Most of the stuff is online in any event, so less is more. Otherwise you are dragging pounds of paper around and then you get to your hotel room and do the sort of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,” which ones you want, she says.
- Keep in touch. “After the show, if the exhibitor or a networking connection you made hasn’t followed up with you, then you have to be proactive and follow-up with the exhibitor,” Friedmann says. Obviously, if you are looking at some competitive companies, the way they respond to you is the telling sign about how they do business,” she says.
Illustration by Ron Wilson