You’re about to step into the bustling world of trade shows, where your booth is your stage and every visitor is a potential customer. But, hold on… do you have all the answers? From understanding your unique selling proposition to the rich history of your company, from the pricing structure to the all-important support and onboarding times, are you ready to field every possible question that could come your way? Do you know what sets you apart from the hundreds of other exhibitors vying for attendees’ attention?
And hey, anyone can have a product to sell, but the stories? That’s where the human connection lies. Do you know how to convey your brand’s story in a way that appeals to and resonates with your potential customers?
In this in-depth guide, we’re going to tackle these fundamental questions and so much more. We’ll guide you on evaluating the cost of exhibiting and help you measure the return on investment, including the not-so-obvious returns on objectives. We’ll walk you through the process of selecting the appropriate trade show that aligns with your business goals, and we’ll share strategies on how to amplify your presence and attract a crowd to your booth.
Ready to conquer that trade show floor? Keep reading… we’ve got you covered!
Top Questions Frequently Asked by Trade Show Visitors
What Products or Services Does Your Company Offer?
The heart of your trade show presence, your products or services, must be clearly communicated to attendees. From detailing how your offering solves industry-specific issues, to demonstrating your product’s unique features, your exhibit, and sales pitch should clearly explain the benefits your products or services provide.
What Makes You Unique or Different from Your Competitors?
With many exhibitors vying for attendees’ attention, pinpointing and articulating what sets your company apart is crucial. Is it cutting-edge technology, unmatched customer service, or a unique pricing model? Highlighting these differentiating factors can set your booth apart from the rest.
Can You Share the Story or History Behind Your Company?
People connect with stories. Sharing your company’s journey can humanize your brand and create a rapport with attendees. Remember to be authentic and relatable—this increases trust and develops long-lasting business relationships.
How Long Have You Been in Business?
The longer you’ve been in business, the more experience and stability you have—and that’s attractive to potential customers. However, if you’re a startup, emphasize your cutting-edge solutions and the fresh approach you bring to the industry.
Do You Work with Any Organizations or Associations Similar to Mine?
Working with similar organizations can be a testament to your capabilities. Don’t hesitate to mention this—it can instantly increase your credibility with potential leads.
What Is Your Product’s Pricing Structure, and Is It Transparent?
Transparency in pricing builds trust. If potential customers understand exactly what they will receive and what it will cost, they’re more likely to consider your product or service.
What Other Products or Services Do You Offer Outside of Your Main One?
Introducing other products or services apart from your main offering can paint a fuller picture of your business. It shows potential customers that you have diverse solutions and can cater to their broader needs. Highlight how these additional offerings complement your main product or service.
What Kind of Training Do You Offer for Users of Your Product or Software?
Training reinforces the value and ease of use of your products or services. Whether it’s virtual tutorials, on-site training, user manuals, or support communities, demonstrate to the attendees that you provide comprehensive training and continuous support. Assuring potential customers of your commitment to their success can be a great selling point.
Can Existing Systems Be Integrated Into Your Product or Software?
Ease of integration is often a decisive factor for potential customers, especially in tech-heavy fields. Can your product interact with the software or systems they currently use? If yes, make sure to highlight this. Showing that your product can seamlessly fit into their existing workflow might earn you some valuable brownie points.
What Are Your Support Hours and What Does Your Customer Support Structure Look Like?
Strong customer support is the backbone of any successful business. Exhibit your commitment to helping customers by explaining your support structure—are you offering 24/7 support or specific support hours? Do customers contact a call center or do they have an assigned representative?
What Is the Average Onboarding Time for Your Product or Software?
Long onboarding processes can discourage potential customers. If your product is designed for swift onboarding, make this known. Show potential leads that getting started with your product or software won’t be a time-consuming task they’ll dread.
Don’t Exhibit at a Trade Show Until You’ve Answered These Questions
How Much Does It Cost to Exhibit at a Trade Show?
The costs of exhibiting at a trade show can vary significantly, depending on multiple elements. First, there are direct costs: booth space rental, booth design and setup, travel and accommodation expenses for staff, shipping charges for display materials, and the cost of promotional items, to name a few.
Then there are indirect costs: lost productivity due to employees being away from the office, the cost of follow-up activities, or potential additional charges related to the event such as Wi-Fi or electricity on the trade show floor. You may also have to consider the cost of training your staff for the event.
While trade shows can represent a substantial investment, it’s important to consider the potential returns, too. These events can offer massive exposure, direct customer engagement, and valuable networking opportunities, often resulting in new leads, partnerships, and sales.
Can We Expect a Solid Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Objectives (ROO) from This Trade Show?
Not all profits are measured in dollars and cents. In addition to the conventional ROI, you also might want to consider your ROO—the extent to which participation in the trade show will help you to meet your specific goals. These could be intangible or qualitative, like raising brand awareness, launching a new product, conducting market research, fostering relationships, or even observing competitors.
While calculating ROI in monetary terms is pretty straightforward, ROO can be a bit more challenging to gauge. It requires you to carefully outline your objectives before the trade show and then evaluate the event’s success in meeting these goals afterwards.
What Are Our Specific Goals for This Trade Show?
Ah, goals—the beacon guiding your trade show journey. Goals could be varied and many. Here’s a hint: try to make them S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).
You might aim to collect a certain number of quality leads, gain a target number of social media followers, or perhaps set a goal for the number of product demos given during the event. Maybe your goal is to establish fruitful relationships with potential business partners or to gather valuable insights and feedback from face-to-face customer interactions. Having clear, well-defined goals will help guide your strategies and activities at the trade show and assist with measuring your success afterwards.
What Is Our Budget for Exhibiting at Trade Shows?
Participating in a trade show is a significant investment and requires a careful budgeting exercise. The budget should not only incorporate direct costs, like registration fees, booth setup, travel, and accommodation but also indirect ones, such as training staff for the event or lost work hours.
Also remember to set aside some funds for unexpected expenses—you might need to rent equipment, hire a translator, or even replace lost or damaged display materials. A ‘miscellaneous’ category in your budget could help ensure that you’re not blindsided by last-minute costs.
Is This Trade Show Ideal for Our Business or Organization Goals?
Picking the right trade show can make all the difference. You’ll want to consider several factors in making this choice. Does the trade show align with your market segment and target audience? Can it help you achieve your specific business and marketing goals? Does it have a history of attracting quality attendees who belong to your target demographic?
Researching past versions of the show, connecting with previous attendees or exhibitors, or even reaching out to the trade show organizers could provide valuable insights. Remember, it’s not just about the largest or the most hyped show—it’s about finding the right match for your unique objectives.
How Will the Show’s Organizers Help Exhibitors Succeed?
Trade show organizers can play a big role in your success. Do they create opportunities for networking? Do they promote exhibitors in the run-up to the show or provide any sponsored speaking opportunities? Do they offer reasonably priced support services, like on-site logistics or marketing assistance?
Understanding what help is available to you can enable you to plan more effectively, take advantage of what’s on offer, and potentially even save on your costs.
Can You Provide Us with a Floor Plan from Previous Years and a List of Attendees Before the Show?
These documents hold a wealth of information. Previous years’ floor plans can help you understand the layout of the event, high-traffic areas, and the best spots to position your booth.
An attendee list, on the other hand, is like a crystal ball—it lets you see who you may be meeting at the event. Is your target clientele on the list? How about industry experts, influencers, potential partners, or even competitors? This knowledge allows you to customize your message, tailor your product display, and train your staff to effectively handle the interactions at the event.
Are There Opportunities to Speak or Become a Sponsor at the Trade Show?
From giving a keynote speech to sponsoring a coffee break, these activities can give your brand visibility a solid boost. Speaking positions you as an industry leader, while sponsorships not only increase brand exposure but also demonstrate support for your industry or community. Contact the event organizers to explore available opportunities.
Should We Rent a Booth or Hire a Trade Show Exhibit Company to Design a Custom Booth?
This decision usually hinges on your budget, frequency of trade shows you attend, and how critical the booth design is to your exhibiting strategy. Renting is a cost-effective choice, especially if you attend trade shows infrequently or find standard booth sizes and designs sufficient. But if showcasing your brand uniqueness through a custom booth design aligns better with your strategy, hiring an exhibit company can provide that wow-factor and potentially attract more visitors.
How Can We Create a Visually Attractive Booth That Showcases Our Products and Brand?
Your booth is your billboard in a trade show. To make it attractively stand out, keep things harmonious with your brand identity. Use colors, layouts, and multimedia that mesh with your brand’s image and values. Focus your display on key products or services, but beware of overcrowding. Interactive elements can pique attendees’ interest— consider digital presentations, fun games, or hands-on product trials. Remember, your goal is to create a memorable experience for the visitors.
Where Is the Best Spot for Our Booth on the Trade Show Floor?
Booth location can significantly impact foot traffic. Securing a spot near entrances, food counters, restrooms, or meeting rooms typically guarantees more visibility. Alternatively, if your main competitors are also at the show, setting up in close proximity could allow you to attract some of their audience. Previous floor plans or advice from show organizers can provide helpful insights.
What Pre-Show Marketing Tactics Should We Consider?
Pre-show marketing is essential to create buzz and anticipation amongst potential visitors. This could involve sending direct mail, posting on social media, circulating a newsletter, or placing ads, and should highlight compelling reasons for attendees to visit your booth – an innovative product launch, interesting giveaways, or participation in an entertaining event at your booth, etc.
How Will We Attract a Crowd to Our Trade Show Exhibit?
Attracting a crowd involves a blend of aesthetics, engagement, and curiosity. Mesmerizing booth design or innovative product demonstrations can draw attention, but also consider adding an element of interaction. Organize a contest or a fun game related to your industry, offer giveaways, or feature a unique visual attraction like a digital wall or a VR experience. Remember – the more engaging and distinctive your exhibit is, the better it stands out in a crowd.
Is Our Staff Fully Prepared to Engage with Customers and Capture New Leads?
Your staff at the show are the face of your company. Their preparedness in handling inquiries, objections, and pitches can significantly impact the results of your participation. Equip your booth staff with product knowledge, train them on customer interaction etiquettes, and roleplay multiple scenarios they can encounter.
Do We Have a System for Gathering Prospects’ Contact Information?
A visitor impressed with your exhibit is a lead lost if their contact information is not gathered. Whether old-school paper forms or digital data gathering tools, choose an efficient and reliable system that suits your trade show’s environment. Tablets for on-the-spot data entries or barcode scanners are popular at tech-focused shows, while paper brochures with business reply mail might work better at traditional, face-to-face events.
Who Is Considered an Ideal Customer for Your Company, and How Can Your Company Address My Specific Needs?
Identifying your ideal customer is crucial to tailoring your messaging. Is your ideal customer a tech-savvy millennial, a busy C-suite executive, or regional businesses of a specific type? Defining this will help shape your approach. Also, understand the specific needs of your potential customers. What issues are they battling? How can your products or services provide the solution? Aligning your product’s benefits with visitor’s needs can convert them into customers.
Do We Have an Established Workflow for Following Up with New Leads After the Show?
Following up with leads after the trade show is crucial not only to convert leads into customers but also to maintain and develop relationships. Having a defined workflow – who contacts the lead, when, and how – ensures no potential customer falls through the cracks.
Immediately after the show, send out a thank-you email or note to the attendees who visited your booth. Then, follow this up with a personalized message addressing their particular needs and showing how your products or services can be the solution they’re looking for. Do remember: the sooner you do the follow-ups, the fresher the memory of the event is in the lead’s mind.
Also, leverage the leads captured during the event for longer-term marketing efforts. Add them to newsletters, product update emails, and special promotional campaigns. A trade show often marks the start of a business relationship, not the end.
Preparing for a trade show is a thoughtful, careful process that involves proper planning, execution, and follow-up. It’s a unique opportunity to meet with customers, peers, and competitors face-to-face. Approach it strategically and creatively, and it can take your business to the next level.