Our ‘Top Tips’ for attending a trade show
On our return from the biggest industry show of the year, TFM, we are now looking forward to sharing our latest products and services at a number of other trade shows over the next few months; Sheffex on 17 October, Scottish Business Exhibition 10/11 Nov, Integrated Live in London on 16/17 Nov and B2B Marketing Expo in March 2017! These events are integral to our business, identifying what the buyers are looking for and showing them what we can do to meet their need.
But rather than talk about us, we wanted to share our top tips with you, particularly if you are a visitor attending these or any other shows in the future, as we want to help you meet the right exhibitors, collect the right information and ensure that attending the show will be a valuable use of your time.
So, if you are going to be one of the 39% of trade show attendees with less than eight hours to visit a show then this is definitely the check list for you.
Tip #1 Set goals
Be clear about why you are there and what your ideal outcomes look like. Are they related to knowledge building, forming relationships and building your network or buying specific services or products? If it’s a combination of all three, and more, ensure you have clear goals for each including what information you need and who you need to speak to.
Tip #2 Research
Read through the pre-show paperwork and do some research into which exhibitors you are planning to visit. This way you can be clear in your questions to them and avoid too much time in small talk.
Tip #3 Create an Action Plan
Decide which exhibitors are a ‘priority’ and which are ‘desirable’ in advance of the show. Look at the map of the stands and plan your way around the show in the most economical and efficient way. Always make sure you plan to see your priority stands first.
Tip #4 Time
Identify how much time you are spending at the show and what connections you need to
make in order to achieve your outcomes and goals. Get a map as soon as you arrive and check the directory to be aware of last minute changes. Make sure everyone on your list is exhibiting and if any of the seminar times have changed.
Tip #5 Declutter
Put any excess bags and coats in the cloakroom. All you need is a pen, notepad, map/ directory, business cards, phone and some money for refreshments.
Tip #6 Only collect what you need
It’s very tempting to collect every piece of literature and promotional gift that the exhibitors are offering as you walk past. Keep focused and only take the information you really need from the exhibitors you have on your list. Spontaneous conversations will arise, but in those cases, simply ask them to email you with the details so you are not held up too long or laden down with more unnecessary paperwork.
Tip #7 Take a break
Take regular breaks, sit down, rehydrate and ensure you are on target with your goals. Take notes on the stands you have been to as these will help when preparing your report for colleagues.
Tip #8 Get networking
Don’t be afraid to talk to others. Make sure you keep an eye out for networking opportunities. Industry leaders often attend and are walking around or speaking and these are great people to know. Find ways to be invited into hospitality suites and receptions. Smile and be social at workshops and during breaks. Hand out those business cards you've brought along and make sure you collect one from the person you are speaking with.
Tip #9 Organise the information
Sort it into envelopes and address them to the relevant person in your team. If the information is for you, sort it by priority, using sticky notes to jog your memory after you've returned from the show.
Tip #10 The follow up
Be sure to follow up with new contacts and vendors after the show. Set a short timeframe in which to do this or pass back priority follow ups to your colleagues in the office so they can make contact whilst the show is still taking place. Remember, competitors or other potential buyers will be hitting the phones at 9am the following day. You need to be prepared and have a process in place so you don’t miss out.