Today's post from the Chamber of Commerce features business-growth advice for small companies.
When it comes to the trade shows, Susan Friedmann says that most companies have the wrong attitude.
“Companies, and individual employees, see trade shows as a necessary evil,” Friedmann, better known as The Trade Show Coach, said. “They don’t view a trade show as part of an overall marketing plan.”
As a trade show expert, Friedmann is invited by companies and trade show organizers to help exhibitors make the most of the events. She recently created an online trade show training program too, designed to prepare attendees to take advantage of the many opportunities the events provide.
In her experience, she has found that people are perhaps the least-utilized component of trade show marketing.
“Companies spend hundreds, thousands even, on prettying up their booths, when really there should be more focus on the people manning that booth,” Freidman said. “It is the people who will make the sales, not the booth.”
She also has this advice to help companies maximize trade show potential for sales:
1. Go for the right reasons. Friedmann says that the “lamest” reason to attend a trade show is simply because competitors will be there. “There is something to be said for having a presence, but don’t make that the only point of going,” she said.
Instead, develop specific goals and outcomes for the trade show and put the steps in place to accomplish them. Showing up the competition should just be a bonus.
2. Prepare. There are some challenging circumstances that are out of the control of exhibitors, like disastrous weather conditions or the booth pieces arriving late. For the most part though, companies attending trade shows should prepare for as many details as possible. What questions are booth visitors likely to ask? How can employees best take advantage of conversations with booth visitors?
Companies should also set at least some appointments ahead of time and invite people to stop by the booth at trade show opening events and mixers.
3. Don’t waste time. Friedmann says that the site of people simply sitting at a trade show booth – eating, reading or having conversations with colleagues – is all too common. She says that the main reason people do not take advantage of all trade show opportunities is because they do not know any better.
“People often do not know why they are there, or what is expected of them,” Friedmann said. Employers need to empower exhibitors with the pre-determined goals and the authority to make them reality. Take advantage of every opportunity to make a good impression and every sales strategy.
“Gearing up for a trade show is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle,” she said. “Pieces can come up missing, but companies should do their best in advance to make it all fits together to their advantage.”
Attending trade shows makes sense for businesses, just make sure you approach it with the right attitude and come prepared. What tips have helped boost your effectiveness at trade shows?
Katie Parsons writes for ChamberofCommerce.com where she specializes in business news affecting major markets. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses with online growth. Plus, it facilitates connectivity between local firms and over 7,000 Chambers worldwide.