Custom exhibit designer, Gilbert, shares trade show tips for small businesses:
Choosing the Right Event
Conducting your research is a key element to success when it comes to selecting a trade show to attend. You should begin by making a list of local, regional, and national shows that you feel align with your and your company’s goals. Once you’ve identified the right events, be sure to thoroughly review their websites, compile contact information, and look into other companies that have exhibited there in the past. This will help you to better identify if these trade shows are good fits for you.
If you or your company have never participated in a trade show before, it would be wise to attend some in your area to get a sense of how it’s done. This will afford you the opportunity to get your name out there and to speak with other attendees and exhibitors to get their honest trade show opinions. Attending events also allows you to think like a consumer, which gives you a better understanding of your potential customer base when it comes time to participate as an exhibitor.
Set Specific Goals
Work with your team to develop reasons to participate in trade shows, but also work on developing goals for after the event as well. A well-researched and comprehensive marketing plan will help keep you and your team on track before, during, and after the event. Be realistic about the goals you are setting, but don’t be afraid to be ambitious either. You may surprise yourself and accomplish more than you thought possible by setting goals that take you and your team out of your comfort zone.
Get Your Team Ready
Be sure to discuss how you will approach things at an event, and make sure that your team members know what their roles will be that day. Don’t forget to assign someone to day-of promotion on social media. Those duties range from live tweeting, live streaming, content gathering, and execution across all active social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Gather all assets that were compiled at the event such as leads, contact information, and any promotional materials that will be used later. Don’t let too much time pass before reaching out to the new contacts you have made. You want to be fresh in the minds of your potential new clients. You may want to consider incentivizing those who attended with a discount code. This can be done by sending out personal emails or even through an e-blast that can be sent to all your new contacts at once. Once things have settled down after a trade show, analyze your successes and shortcomings in order to improve things next time. Trade shows are excellent environments to connect with new clientele. While it’s not always possible to attend every single trade show for your industry, you should make an effort to attend as many as possible. You don’t want to miss out on a crucial opportunity to increase brand awareness and interact with potential new customers.
Gilbert is a design, construction, and event management firm specializing in trade show exhibits, commercial interiors, and corporate events. For over 30 years, Gilbert and its team of expert designers and craftsmen have been elevating brands by creating engaging environments that produce lasting impressions. Gilbert’s three business units, Exhibition, Architectural, and Live, are each specialized for their respective sectors. Gilbert Exhibition provides turnkey services for trade show attendees including design, fabrication, and exhibit management, Gilbert Architectural delivers innovative design and high-end construction services for permanent environments, and Gilbert Live handles corporate event planning and production.