Expos can be a great marketing tool and an effective way to gain positive exposure for your company or product. But if you’re new to the world of expos and trade shows, it can also be intimidating and potentially overwhelming. Here are ten tips to help newbies have a terrific expo experience.
1. Identify Three Reasons for Attending
This is the basis of your entire expo adventure: why are you there? While there will likely be many reasons you’re attending, narrow it down to the three most important reasons. What does your company or product need the most, and how does this specific expo meet that need? Understanding what you need to get out of the expo is vital to making it a success, because it’s the basis for all the decisions you’ll be making along the way.
2. Set Goals
This may seem obvious, but it’s something that’s often lost in the shuffle of the more practical preparations, like setup. With your three reasons for attending in mind (mentioned above), your goals should be strategic and measurable, but also realistic. Base goals and objectives on the expected attendance numbers, total number of exhibiting hours, number of your staff attending, and your total budget. Write your goals down, and keep track during the expo so you can adjust your tactics and presence as needed.
3. Competitive Research
Check out the other vendors signed up for the expo. Will there be any competitors? If there are several companies with similar products or services, you’ll need to focus on the creativity and innovation of your display to set yourself apart. And if there are a large number of competitors, you may want to reconsider the expo altogether, and find one with less competition!
4. Pre-Expo Marketing
Advertise and market the expo to help draw in existing and potential customers. Creating awareness in your target audience prior to the show will go a long way to helping you meet the goals you’ve set for the expo itself. Use a variety of media to create excitement and buzz about your participation in the event.
5. Know Your Audience
Understanding your target audience and their specific needs is crucial to a successful expo experience. Who’s the “perfect prospect”? What need do they have that your company can meet? Getting a firm grasp on this beforehand allows you to effectively “answer” the needs or wants of your target audience with your booth display.
6. Showcase a Product or Service
Even if your company has a large line of products and services, you need to narrow it down at the expo and choose one or two to showcase. Having a more narrow focus allows for a more powerful and effective display.
7. Streamline Your Exhibit
Along with showcasing a particular product or service, you need to keep your exhibit streamlined. A crowded exhibit is overwhelming to potential customers, who may just pass you by altogether, while an open and uncluttered booth is much more inviting. Utilize color and light to draw people in, and then keep them there with demos or presentations offered by a well-trained staff. Keep your space open by having no more than one staff member per 50 square feet.
8. Prep Your Staff
An expo is a whole other world from your place of business, with specific guidelines, rules, and expectations. Be sure your staff is well-trained and well-prepared for the difference, because what works in the storefront might not fly at the expo. Booth staff need to be trained specifically in engaging expo customers; how to “invite” customers in with body language, probe with open-ended questions, and politely disengage unqualified attendees.
9. Record All Information Necessary for Follow-Ups
Have a formal, pre-determined means of recording customer information for follow-ups, as well as for demographics gathering. Develop a simple rating system for leads to prioritize follow-ups–for example H for hot, C for cold, W for warm.
10. Follow-Up as Promised
Nothing is worse than losing a hot lead because no one followed-up with them. If you promised contact within a specific time frame, be sure it happens. Create a standard follow-up letter and mail or email every contact made at the expo within a week of the show; thank them for attending your booth, reiterate the benefits of your product or service, and mail samples or coupons.
Good luck, and have a terrific and productive expo!