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Tradeshow Tips for Small Businesses - Part 2

By Garrett Spence   |    November 14, 2014   |    9:38 AM

5 Tips on Making the Most Out of Tradeshows

Tradeshows offer some of the best opportunities for a business to obtain brand awareness and meet face-to-face with potential customers. Having a presence at industry-specific tradeshows is an especially good investment for new businesses trying to establish themselves. But startups need to do more than simply show up at the tradeshow and hand out a few flyers. Here are five tips for making the most of tradeshows. 

1. Network Before, During and After: Most tradeshows make a list of attendees available to registered participants. Connect with these attendees before the event via email and/or regular mail. Let them know about the product/service that you'll be promoting at you booth. This will help build some brand recognition when these people eventually see your brand on the tradeshow floor. Alert current and former customers, partners and colleagues that the company will be setup at the tradeshow. Attend all the networking events during the event and try to meet as many people as possible. Once the tradeshow is over, follow-up with everyone on the attendee list, but send special messages to the people that the business actually connected with.

2. Develop a tradeshow strategy: It’s always important to set goals for the tradeshow, and these goals should be shared with anyone who will be manning your booth. How many people does the company need to speak with? How many on-site sales should be made? How will the company capture attendee information for follow-up? What type of information will be needed for follow-up, i.e. does the company need phone numbers to call people they connected with or just emails so that these people can be dropped into an email nurture campaign? How many leads are needed to have a positive ROI from the show?

3. Establish the talking points: Think about the one message that potential customers should walk away with after leaving the booth. That message should be prominent throughout the booth signage, flyers and sales pitches. Narrow down to a handful of talking points, and go over these with the sales team. Rehearse these beforehand. These talking points should also tell a story about how the product or service can benefit the customer and is different from competitors.

4. Invest in a good booth: Tradeshow booths tend to be expensive. But if the startup does some planning ahead of time and have honed their branding and messaging, the booth could last for years. Even if the startup can’t get all the bells and whistles, booths should still have pop-up displays, prominent logos and some type of technology, especially iPads. Add something that catches the attendees’ eye whether it’s great swag, food or interesting visuals.

5. Find prime real estate: While not every tradeshow will allow a business to select their location, take advantage of the ones that do. Find a space where people are continually walking past the booth like corners or islands. Look for spaces that have traffic coming from multiple locations. Sometimes, tradeshows will charge more for certain high traffic locations. It’s worth the investment.

Just going to the tradeshow is not enough. Startups can get better leads if they use some of the above tradeshow tactics.

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