Trade shows are a great way to get publicity for your product and potential customers. There are various types of trade shows to demonstrate your products and make sales. I have attended many trade shows with various products and sold millions of dollars doing so. The key is to find the right type of trade show to get the most bang for your buck so don’t pay to attend a trade show that does not attract the demographic mix that would be attracted to your product.
I attended the largest trade show in the world held in Berlin called “Interfunken” and I brought what we called a “MidiMaster”. It was a recording device that attached to any instrument that had a digital interface. Its uses were many and at the time it could be used to back up disks, record up to 16 different instruments and play back. If you were a music teacher you could record your students playing and then play back. If you were a one man band you could record other instruments to accompany you, etc.
I signed over $7,000,000 in purchase orders and I shared a booth with a distributor that was going to represent us in Europe. I brought many samples and signed every major instrument maker that had digital interfaces.
If you have the money, you might want to advertise in the local paper that you will be showing the latest widget of its kind so come see the benefits it will offer whoever is purchasing the product. You could do this through the internet, newspapers, trade journals, magazines and word of mouth.
Space is important and not just the size of the booth, positioning is critical to attracting people to your booth so ask for a copy of the booth locations of the vendors and where the bathrooms are located and concession stands. Try and find space near potential channel partners or companies that are making a big splash and attract large gatherings. You will get the spill over to your booth for no additional charge. Sometimes being close to a concession stand is good as people that are eating will look at your booth when they are sitting down and might find you interesting. Make sure you have enough power to handle all of your electrical requirements.
Hooks are great to attract people to your booth. I usually have signs that say our product is rated by some authority, or you can purchase at XYZ Company. I usually have give always like pens, candy, pen knives or seasonal give always to being people to my booth. I sometimes have product give always or drawings for trips, luggage, etc. Other hooks are seminars and try to get your booth advertised and have people signed up to attend at your booth at one of the rooms set aside for vendor seminars. Some people will have magicians that employ card tricks to reveal the benefits of the product, others will have a putting booth and everyone that sinks a put will get a prize of some sort or registered for a drawing. Having a room at the hotel or convention center for invited guests is great and you can get intimate with the product and offer snacks and drinks in a more relaxed manner.
You need to have ample product to show and demonstrate, business cards, brochures and flyers and most of all collect all business cards, the person you are talking with, interest they have, buying power and volume.
Depending on the size of your booth, invest in a backdrop and have professional signs depicting the benefits and the demographic and with testimonials. Sometimes I would have my own booth and then partner with other firms that were selling my product and they would give us space to demonstrate at their booth. I have seen booths that cost millions and others that cost a thousand.
Friendliness is key to go with your knowledge to be able to explain all of the benefits your product can offer. Always have your booth well stocked with sales people and have them look interested.
It may sound trite, but trade shows can be brutal if you do not have enough staff and you have to pull 12 hour days with few breaks. Dress appropriately and I mean wear comfortable shoes with two pair of socks, have rugs over the cement floor and then have rubber or even a second rug to stand on that is close to your product.
Finally lead tracing and follow is mandatory and this is where most companies fall down. I don’t know why, but many companies do not adequately follow up on the leads they generate at trade shows and then they wonder why they spent the money to attend as they didn’t get the business they projected.
If I had four sales people at my booth, every night after closing and before dinner, we would all get together and discuss every lead we generated that day and prioritized the lead in order of importance and put together a plan for immediate follow up and we did that every day. I tracked the pipeline and percent of close for each lead to gauge the effectiveness of the show and it worked very much to our advantage.