Exhibiting at Trade Shows and Expos can be a cost-effective way to generate leads and expand your market when done right. However, a few mistakes can lead to a very disappointing venture. Here are our top ten trade show do's and don’ts to help you avoid the pitfalls and steer you toward success.
1. Read your exhibitor manual. Not only does your exhibitor manual have information on early bird discounts, but it also contains important rules and regulations that affect your booth design and setup. Read through the manual carefully and highlight all information that pertains to you. If you have questions, contact the show organizer.
2. Prepare qualifying questions. Not everyone at the show will be your ideal customer. Prepare qualifying questions in advance to ensure your spending time talking to the right people. Your final qualifying question should always be, “How and when would you like us to be in touch after the show?”
3. Commit to 100 percent participation. Make sure you show up for all activities taking place (education sessions, refreshment breaks, and networking events) when the exhibit hall is not open. These events are where some of the most productive relationship building takes place.
4. Set clear objectives. It is not enough to say that you are going to the show to find new customers. Set realistic and measurable goals such as 20 viable sales leads per day, 50 email list signups, and five one-on-one meetings with current customers to discuss new business.
5. Create a lead follow-up plan. Before you even step foot on the show floor, have a lead follow-up plan in place. Choose a date when all leads must be entered into your CRM system, requested information sent, phone calls completed, and identify who is responsible for seeing it through.
6. Sit/Eat/Use your phone. People walking the aisles do not want to bother exhibitors who appear to be busy or uninterested. While you’re checking your voicemail, chowing down, or looking bored a potential buyer may be passing you by.
7. Pack up early. Serious buyers often say they like to hit the show floor in the final hours when things are not as hectic, and they can have a meaningful conversation without being rushed. Pack up early, and you may miss out on these seasoned buyers.
8. Waste money on swag and tchotchkes. Serious buyers are not lured into your booth to pick up a free water bottle or a stress ball. Focus on show offers that only qualified customers would be interested in, such as one-month free maintenance or free product training.
9. Collect unqualified leads. Exhibitors often make the mistake of collecting as many badge swipes or business cards as possible. If you have not qualified the person you're talking to, that “lead” is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
10. Judge people based on appearances. In many industries, jeans and t-shirts are the preferred wardrobes of those with purchasing power. Some individuals in power positions like to walk the show floor incognito and will even wear a badge that indicates a much lower status than their own. Greet everyone who walks into your booth as though they will be your best customers.
What are some of your favorite trade show do's and don’ts?