How many times have you been approached to exhibit at trade shows but declined? Exhibiting at trade shows can be a very powerful marketing weapon, but only if you understand who your market is and if these people will be attending the trade show in large numbers.
Knowing your target customer is one of the most important principles in successfully building your business. You must be able to describe your prospective customer in as much detail and passion as you can describe your own product or service.
Once you’ve made the decision to be an exhibitor at a trade show, you need to find out who will be attending by getting a list of the registered participants from the organizer of the event. You can also get a list of former exhibitors and call several of them to get their feedback from past years. Your goal is to identify the highest level of prospects for your product because they are the most likely attendees.
Once you have a list of the attendees, it’s important to contact as many of them prior to the trade show as you can. You could send them a letter, an e-mail, or a report, or an invitation to a special session you’re planning to hold at the trade show. You could offer to give them a private consultation or demonstration if they come to your exhibit area. You could also invite them to join you for breakfast or lunch. The possibilities are endless.
The next thing you need to do is to find your strongest customer testimonials and have them blown up so you can display them in your trade-show booth. You can also have testimonials constantly playing on a Television or computer monitor in your booth. Remember, the strongest testimonials are the ones that quantify a benefit. For example, instead of a testimonial saying “I highly recommend ABC Accounting. ” Your testimonial should say, “Thanks to ABC Accounting we’re paying $10,000 less in taxes this year. ”
To get the maximum return from a trade show you need to give your exhibit maximum sales appeal. It’s important that you make clear to every potential customer at the trade show, that you have a product or service that provides a benefit that they need to take advantage of. Use provocative messages that will attract visitors to your booth. For example, if you offer a consulting service that motivates employees, you could put a large banner over your booth in bold letters saying, “Let Us Show You How You Can Raise Productivity by 20%. ” You could also put up smaller teaser signs inside or alongside the booth that say, “Ask Us About Reducing Employees Rate of Error. ”
The more things you can put in and around your booth to get attention, the more traffic you’ll draw. Your booth should be a center of energy and excitement, instead of looking like a lonely dud. You don’t want a poorly planned trade-show booth that has a few dead-tired signs, a stack of business cards, and a couple of bored sales reps standing around. These booths attract no one.
Another unique way to make yourself stand out at a trade show is by playing a far more significant role than just being an exhibitor. For example, you could get the promoter of the trade show to give you special support or an endorsement and in return you give him or her a portion of your sales. Or you could arrange to have the promoter give you a breakfast, luncheon, or a cocktail party. You could also, have the promoter arrange for you to be a key speaker at workshop or seminar. By doing one or two of these things, it elevates you to the status of an endorsed expert.
Always have free items at your booth to give away. But make sure these giveaways are of genuine value for visitors. Instead of the conventional things like ballpoint pens, and notepads, give them things like a ceramic travel mug or a nice-looking desk clock. Or if you are a financial consultant you could give away a special report on the best investments for the coming year.
Your single most important challenge at a trade show is to get people’s names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. If you don’t get this vital information, you have wasted your time and money. You must have a mechanism for collecting this information, whether it’s a sign up for a raffle, signing up for your free newsletter, or some other valuable report you will send them.
Exhibiting at a trade show often requires a lot of work and time, but it is well worth it. Because if you do it correctly exhibiting at trade shows is one of the best ways to promote your business and acquire new customers.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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