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When you think of trade shows, you probably envision rows of custom-designed booths, countless sales pitches from exhibitors, and enough promotional stress balls to fill the plane on your flight home. But what you should imagine are leads for your small business. Trade shows are an excellent way to market your business, create more awareness of your brand, and meet new customers who will buy the products or services you sell. The more leads you generate from trade shows, the higher your return on investment. This Balboa Capital blog post explains how to get leads at trade shows.
If you plan to exhibit at an industry trade show, you must put on your strategic hat long before the event. You cannot just show up, set up a great-looking booth, and expect your fishbowl to fill up with business cards quickly. Instead, it would be best to start by ensuring a suitable event for your business goals.
Review your trade show options online, and do not hesitate to contact organizers and ask for media kits and promotional materials. They should be able to provide you with information about the event and floor layouts, exhibit spaces, workshops, and possible networking opportunities. In addition, make sure to ask how many people attended the show in previous years. A show with many attendees can help you find more new customers.
Plan your trade show budget.
The amount of money you spend to exhibit at a trade show will vary based on several factors. These include the size of the event, how much exhibit space you need, and how many attendees you will have. Of course, you will also need to include the cost of your actual trade show display. For example, unique flooring and custom booth signage can be expensive to produce and ship to the event.
Your budget should also include the cost to design and print sales sheets and promotional materials you will give to prospects. If the trade show allows you to publish a press release announcing your participation in the event, add that cost to your budget. Lastly, do not forget to include setup and teardown costs, travel/Per Diem expenses, and miscellaneous show services fees.
Create a lead-generating booth.
Trade show attendees who walk the floor will see many booths, each with its brand messaging. If your booth does not stand out with messaging that resonates with people immediately, it will not make an impact. Attendees might walk by and not stop to see what your business is all about.
To prevent this from happening, design your booth with these must-have elements: a strong visual, a compelling headline, your business name, your business logo, and your business website URL. Your headline should be benefit-driven, not generic, and be printed in an easy-to-read font that can be seen from several yards away.
Finalize your sales pitch.
You might have just 15 seconds to capture the attention of someone who visits your booth. But, without a well-prepared and exciting pitch, you might lose them. So, meet with your employees attending the show and brainstorm pitch ideas. Come up with a brief intro about your small business and what it offers, and include a benefit that will lead to further conversation. When talking to people who might be qualified leads, make sure you get their contact information.
You can collect prospects’ business cards, connect with them on social media, or ask them to provide their information on a tablet or laptop. It is also good to bring order forms and a credit card reader for prospects ready to become customers. Finally, politely end the conversation and thank them if a person is not interested in your products or services.
Walk the floor and mingle at trade shows.
This will only apply if you have enough people at your booth to talk to prospects. If this is the case, take turns walking the floor to meet with potential vendors, partners, and customers. Doing this allows you to see what your competitors promote at their booths and discover new products, services, and trends that might benefit your small business. Remember that you are the face of your business, so act professional and be friendly.
Follow up with your leads.
Once the show ends and you are back at the office, you still have work to do. And we are not talking about the many tasks that piled up when you were gone. Instead, we are talking about following up with your trade show leads. Contact all of them via email or phone to see if they are still interested in what your business offers.
Moreover, if you told any of them that you would be sending more information about your business, or perhaps an estimate, do it right away. The sooner you follow up, the better chance you can land new business.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.