Any marketer worth their salt would agree that technology has been a game changer when it comes to how businesses, both big and small, market to (and interact with) their target markets.
Yet as vital a tool as social media has become to achieve their goals, there’s no substituting the marketing power of attending a trade show, and meeting people face to face – some of our clients swear by it. They get to find new clients, while also meeting partners and checking out competitors.
While a strong social media presence can imprint a brand on the minds of literally millions of buyers as well as help to expand a company’s operations to a global scale, many companies consistently make the argument that being able to look a decision maker in the eye is vital to building longstanding and prosperous relationships.
As potentially benefiting as a trade show can be, if you deviate from your strategy (it’s not enough to simply set up a booth and wait for buyers to approach you) your presence at your next trade show could be a colossal flop. As nerve-wracking as this may sound, it can easily be avoided provided you and your team are adequately prepared.
Trade shows: what to bring
First and foremost, bringing the right team is key. Even if you’ve invested in an impressive custom exhibit designed to attract droves of potential buyers, if you don’t have the right people in place to field questions or properly represent your company you might be doing more harm than good.
New products. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with issuing a press release and a mass email to your current clients to tell the world you’re adding a new product line, unveiling a new and exciting product at a trade show can create a lot of buzz – especially if you’ve taken the time to tantalize your target market in the days and weeks leading up to the event. Be sure to give due thought as to which products you want to showcase – ask yourself whether or not your product is something the industry has been waiting for. If it is, being able to get it into the hands of decision makers attending the show can lead to firm commitments right off the bat.
Remember the 5 P’s: proper planning prevents poor performance
Of course, we all know this, but it’s nonetheless something that often fails to happen. Failing to plan your presence at the trade show can absolutely result in fewer qualified leads. In the days leading up to your event, pull your team members aside and go over your strategy, and assign roles that each team member will fulfill. Having a team that is organised is immediately discernible to approaching buyers; unorganized booths generally give off a negative impression of the company.
If showcasing a new product, make sure they know it inside and out; potential buyers can sense whether or not the person they are speaking to are competently versed in the product’s features and capabilities. If you’re team doesn’t exude knowledge and confidence, it’s much more likely they won’t convert that lead, and might make it difficult converting them in the future.
Networking: get to know the people you’re trying to sell to
There’s a lot you can learn about someone by visiting their LinkedIn as well as Instagram profile, but more often than not these online profiles don’t adequately indicate who potential buyers really are.
Remember that the most successful business relationships are forged on a personal level. If small talk or rapport building is not your forte, you should know that it’s an invaluable skill to develop. In fact, there are legions of communication consultants that can teach the tools necessary to become a master orator. If you think that your products speak for themselves, consider that having the gift of the gab just might give you the edge you need to land a sales contract.
After the show: stay fresh in the minds of your leads
If you did land a big contract at your trade show, there’s nothing wrong with showing a little appreciation. If you’ve built enough rapport with them, you might get a sense as to what they’re like outside of work. If so, consider taking advantage of a subscription gift giving service so that your company remains in their thoughts as much as possible. Did they mention they have a dog? Subscribe to a service that will send a different gourmet dog treat to their home every month. Do they love to cook? Why not sign them up to receive a different culinary tool each month. The best part about these programs is once you initiate the subscription you won’t need to remind yourself to send anything else to them for an entire year.
If you don’t have the budget for these types of programmes, there’s nothing wrong with building relationships the old fashioned way; dedicate some time each week to reach out to the leads that approached your booth and give them a call; you’d be surprised how a simple phone call can have a positive impact on your business.