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Delivering results, part 2: Get the most out of trade show attendanceHeather
Delivering results, part 2: Get the most out of trade show attendanceIf you think that making things happen at a trade show is only possible with an exhibit, then think again. Even if you won’t be staking a booth in the exhibit hall, you can still put trade show attendance to work for you.Last month, we shared ideas for getting the most ROI out of a trade show exhibit. In the second of our two-part series, we’ve pulled together a few ideas for maximizing your trade show attendance.Scope it out—Many trade shows now have frequently updated websites, showing you who will be exhibiting where. Before you head to the trade show, look at who will be there and where they’ll be. Make a list of potential business partners you want to meet – and competitors you want to research.

Prep for new business—Using the list you’ve compiled, visit the websites of prospective business partners, outline how you think your organization’s products and services dovetail and how you could benefit one another. If possible, schedule appointments with prospective business partners to give you more time to make your pitch.

Sniff out competitors—Trade shows are a great opportunity to learn more about your competitors. Make a list of who will be there. Then, check out their websites and jot down features/benefits/services that are different from yours. Pay special attention to any features or services that are new—the trade show might be a good opportunity to get additional information about them. Since your competitors are just as likely to be talking with prospective partners, knowing what they’re likely to say will help your pitch as well.

Pack your bag—At every trade show, there are flyers, sell sheets and giveaways galore. Be prepared to pick them up by taking a small, lightweight tote bag with you to the show. Pick a tote bag in a fun pattern or colour—it will act as a natural conversation starter. The PhotoGraFX™ Scapes Flat Tote – Dahlia or PhotoGraFX™ Flat Tote – Mountain will help you stand out from the crowd.

Get guerrilla—You don’t need an exhibit booth to have a useful giveaway that will get noticed. Tantalize new contacts by giving them your business card in a Calculator with Business Card Holder and Pen. Tuck a business card-sized product guide inside as well.

You can also coordinate with your hotel to get noticed:

  • Create hotel room surprises by having a logo’d gourmet coffee pouch and coffee mug delivered to the rooms of all conference attendees. Add a coupon for a special conference-only offer.
  • If your prospective customers are more likely to spend their free time working out or hiking through area parks or trails, ask the hotel to deliver sport bottles to conference attendees who use the gym. Clip on a postcard outlining your products or services.
  • Is rain in the forecast?  Hand out umbrellas to anyone wearing a conference badge and lanyard who passes through the hotel lobby.

Carry on!—Networking doesn’t need to end with the close of the show. If you were inspired by a trade show presenter, ask if he or she would like to join you for dinner. Find the Twitter hashtag for the trade show and see where attendees will be gathering. Often, these informal get-togethers give you a great opportunity to get to know your prospects and potential business partners.

Trade show attendance can be über-productive if you go in with an idea of what you want to get out of it. By going into the show with a solid ‘to-do’ list, you’ll get back to the office feeling less like you’ve been away and more like you’re on your way to new business and partnerships. Enjoy!

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