Developing A Winning Strategy For Your First Trade Show

A big part of running a successful business is networking. Which is why, even though daunting, trade shows are something that every mompreneur must take advantage of. As a business woman, you are, no doubt, aware that for your venture to have any chance of success, you need to spread the word about it. Because, as every entrepreneur knows, even if you have the most unique product (or service), if no one knows about it, you have no chance of success.

As business owners, we hear a lot about the importance of effective marketing, because marketing is the key to success. Believe it or not, marketing isn’t just about having a well-branded website and an effective social media campaign. It’s also about marketing yourself and your brand through networking. Obviously, specialist networking events are great for this, but trade shows tend to be even more effective.

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Let’s get it out in the open – the idea of attending a trade show may be incredibly daunting, but it’s necessary if you want to succeed. The truth is, once you get there and get set up, you’ll most probably have an amazing time. Trade shows can be a lot of fun – once you’ve done one, you’ll be hooked, especially as they can be fantastic for increasing your client base. That is if you know what you’re doing and how to make the most of being there.

What it’s important to remember is that at one stage or another, every entrepreneur is new to trade shows. The key to success is developing a winning strategy, to ensure that your brand and stall stand out from the hundreds of others in attendance. To help you stand out from the other exhibitors, here are a few useful tips and ideas to try at your first trade show.

Pick a prime location

Once you’ve decided to attend a certain trade show or event, the next step is to think about the location of your stand. Admittedly, most of the time stand numbers are randomly assigned. However, there may be an option to pay more to choose a particular stand number and pitch. If this is a possibility, it’s a good idea to consider it.

To make the most of your stand, you need to be in an area that gets a lot of foot traffic. As that way, you know that there will be a lot of people going past, meaning that you should get more people stopping off at your stall. Obviously, if you’re not able to choose your pitch number it’s not the end of the world, it’s just something that’s worth doing if possible.

Have eye-catching signage (and props)

If you’re going to get people stopping at your stand, it needs to be interesting to look at. The best way to achieve this is to have eye-catching signage. This doesn’t just mean investing in branded signage but also getting a little creative to see what ideas you can come up with. What you want your signage to do is not only tell people what your business is, but also intrigue them.

As well as having pop-up stands, booth backdrops, and flags, get creative with your signage. A lot of brands are now choosing to have Instagram-style frames custom made for people to pose in at tradeshows and events. This is a great use of custom signage, as it can be used to entice people over, as well as for competitions. You want to make your stand an attraction – something that everyone wants to see. So be as creative as possible with your signage – if you’re stuck for ideas have a browse online for inspiration.

Run competitions and giveaways

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The reason that competitions are so important when attending a trade show is because you need something to entice people to visit your stall. Yes, your signage will help with that, but so will a competition or giveaway. Whatever you’re giving away needs to be unique. Otherwise, it won’t catch the attention of passersby. So, get creative and think outside the box. Oh, and try to choose a giveaway that links to your business somehow. This is important, as you want the competition to remind people what your business offers.

Say, for example, you run a makeup artistry business, a good giveaway would feature a selection of makeup products or a free makeover. Or, say, for instance, you run a wedding catering company, you could offer a free wedding cake as the prize for the competition winner. Find a way to include your business in the prize, to increase awareness of your brand. Perhaps, as part of the competition, you could ask entrants to retweet a post you’ve shared on Twitter with the use of your custom hashtag?

Make your stand fun

To draw people in, it’s important to make your stand fun. As well as running competitions and giveaways, think of what else you can offer. One of the most successful ways to get people to come over to your stand is to have food and drink to give out. There’s nothing like a free piece of cake or glass of fizz to draw people in. Think cupcakes, cookies, brownies – anything sweet tends to go down well. Or, if you don’t want to offer cakes, how about having a basket of sweets to give out? For the drinks, champagne, cocktails, and mocktails are ideal. You want something that you know will draw people in, as once they’re at your stall, you can then tell them more about your business and what you offer.

Other ways to make your stand fun include having products to test out and play with. Say, for example; you run a sweet making business. You could do demonstrations throughout the day, as well as giving attendees the chance to get involved and try out making a sweet of their own. Or, perhaps coming up with a recipe for a new sweet could be part of a competition that you run, with the winner’s sweet being created? Get creative and think outside of the box and your stand will be a huge success.

Have goody bags

It’s no secret that everyone loves a freebie. So, if you want to get people talking about your stand, make sure to have goody bags on hand to give out. Obviously, you only have a certain budget, so you won’t be able to offer everyone a goody bag. However, you could offer the first 100 people each day who buy a product or sign up to use your service, a free goody bag. A freebie is a great incentive for people to buy, so it’s worth considering putting something together.

As for what should go into your goody bags, that depends on your line or business, as well as your budget. As well as putting deals and discount vouchers into them, things like branded products can work well. However, instead of opting for a branded pen, get a bit more creative. How about having custom teddy bears made wearing a t-shirt with your brand name on? You can get these from CustomPlushToys.com and other specialist custom toy makers. Or, if you’re in the beauty industry, what about giving away some mini versions of your products or a branded hairbrush? To make your goody bags the most talked about part of the event, hype them up on social media and do sneak peaks before and during the event.

Talk to everyone

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Trade shows are about networking. So it’s of the utmost importance that you make an effort to talk to as many people as possible. Whenever anyone walks past your stall, make an effort to say hello. The more friendly you are, the better. Don’t make the mistake of standing behind your stall, instead, stand in front of it. This makes you look more friendly and ready to talk, which is important when it comes to drawing people in. For ideas for talking to attendees, resources like http://www.skylinetradeshowtips.com can be useful.

When it comes to what you say to people, don’t go in with the hard sell. Instead, say hello and introduce yourself, and just see where the conversation goes. Ask them what they’re doing at the event and see what they say. If they say they’re looking for a service that you offer, tell them about it. If not, point them in the direction of a stall holder who offers what they’re looking for. This will get you in the good books of the other stall holders and will mean that they will do the same for you.

Attending your first trade show is always going to be daunting. However, if you take note of the tips and advice above and put together a winning strategy, you can ensure that your first trade show is a success. The most important thing is to make your stall stand out from everyone else’s and to be nice and friendly. It’s also a good idea to offer goody bags as well as competitions and giveaways to make your stand more eye-catching and appealing.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who shows women entrepreneurs how to use solid marketing strategies to turn their life’s passion into a profitable, service-based business. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog, Entrepreneur-Resources.net.

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2 comments

  1. Having giveaways can be a good way to get people to remember your exhibit and get your brand out there. Thanks for sharing!
    Brian´s last blog post ..Why quality graphics are so important to your exhibiting program

  2. Trade show or event gives one company the ability to create brand awareness and luckily obtain plenty of new business clients. And I have to agree with you, goody bags and giveaways will surely make you stand out and of course, taking networking to a new level (Yes, use that networking skills) and using the right visual on your trade show.

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