Tradeshow Marketing Success for Small Businesses
Where can a small business develop new contacts and business for their new business? One of the best ways for a growing company to market their small business to hundreds, if not thousands, of potential new customers over a day or a couple of days is to exhibit at a tradeshow.
Each year, tens of thousands of tradeshows are held across the United States that give the opportunity for small businesses and people interested in their products or services to meet face-to-face. The tradeshow is an incredible opportunity for small businesses to share their service or products with a specific, targeted audience and build relationships with customers who are attending the tradeshow.
Tradeshow Exhibiting Can Be Expensive
Even though marketing at a tradeshow can be a very lucrative opportunity to get your small business in front of a lot of people, it can definitely be an expensive marketing option. It’s incredibly important to take the time in due diligence to plan the costs and the strategy for marketing at a tradeshow.
From the cost of the space in the exhibition hall and the cost of the tradeshow display itself, to the marketing literature, giveaway items, promotional swag, and, of course, the cost of transportation, food, and lodging for staff working at the tradeshow — all these expenses must be considered.
Once you’ve estimated and budgeted for marketing at a tradeshow, here are 10 tips and a bonus secret that can help make tradeshow marketing a success for your small business.
1. Establish Goals
Smart businesses regularly set goals for their business, and setting goals for tradeshow exhibiting is no different.
Whether it’s to generate new sales and increase name recognition and branding while meeting new people or to grow your email and marketing database, establishing goals will help you set your business up for success and give you the best return on your investment.
2. Decide at Which Tradeshow(s) to Exhibit
Research is so important in the planning stage. You want to be exhibiting at a tradeshow that will be attracting the type of customers interested in your business. Searching a tradeshow directory for events locally, regionally, and nationally is a good start.
From there, you’ll want to check out their websites and contact the tradeshow coordinators to get a feel if it’ll be the right fit for your business. Even take the time to contact other exhibitors listed from previous tradeshows to see if the tradeshow event was a success for them.
3. Attend Other Tradeshows
Especially important for people who’ve never been to a tradeshow, attending a tradeshow can be a revelation. Seeing how people work their booths, what their booth displays look like, and what they’re doing to drive traffic to their space can give you ideas on ways your business can attract people to your booth.
4. Preshow Promotions
Social-media marketing via your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social channels is a great way to target people who may be interested in your business.
Inviting your current customers and your prospective customers in your pipeline of relationship building is just as important. Building preshow buzz is an important part of marketing your tradeshow presence.
Utilizing an incentive — such as a special event at your booth, the promise of a free gift, or entry into a contest for a creative prize — can motivate people to visit your booth.
5. Get Media Exposure
Tradeshows are known to be frequented by media personalities who cover the tradeshow niche. Pitch your ideas well in advance of the event to acquire interview opportunities with key editors or writers in your industry.
Not only does this open up the chance to get exposure for your business if they write about you, but establishing and building a relationship with key representatives in the media can be a major asset for future media opportunities.
6. Prepare Your Staff
The team you assemble to work the tradeshow is critical to the success of your tradeshow presence. They should be well educated in what to say when people visit your booth.
Staff should know how to give a quick description of what your company does, what services or options your company offers, and additional details about your products, services, and the promotions you are having at the show.
They should know what type of qualifying questions to ask visitors to identify those people who are truly interested your company. Role playing sales-floor scenarios can be extremely helpful in retaining that knowledge and ensuring a natural conversation from the sales team.
7. Prepare Your Tradeshow Booth Space
Besides the cost of the space, the tradeshow booth will be your biggest expense. You should design a tradeshow booth space that is eye catching. It should be able to be seen from about 20 feet away and convey to attendees in a couple of seconds what your company is all about.
There are companies, such as Nimlok, that are experienced in developing and designing tradeshow booths that make an impact. Having a space that is open and inviting is important so your visitors aren’t stuck out in the tradeshow aisle and can walk into your space.
In addition to your booth space, you want to make sure you have sales material to distribute to those attendees who show an interest in your company. An interactive contest of some kind to continue to draw attention and visitors to your booth can be a huge win for your business.
8. Lead Capture
There are many ways to get contact information from show attendees. Whether it’s a drawing for which they leave their business card, an iPad demo with a landing page on which visitors fill in their information, or a signup sheet for people who participate in your contest there at the show, make sure there are several ways to capture their information.
Leads are the lifeblood of business, especially at tradeshows.
9. Get Social
While at the show, you should have one of your staff members be the point person for social media at the event!
From live tweeting about the upcoming contest and using the tradeshow hashtag to inviting people to come to your booth and uploading pictures to video clips of customer testimonials, utilizing social media to keep the buzz going about your booth continues to be influential in driving traffic to you.
10. Network, Network, Network
The show is a networking event. Make sure to have some time during the day to get out of your space and meet the other exhibitors. You never know if they may need your product or services or if what you do may be complementary to what they do and result in referrals to others.
Networking can end up being a goldmine of new leads and/or potential business partners. Go forth and network!
Bonus … FOLLOW UP!
This really shouldn’t be a tip, but so many businesses make this critical error. Following up with people who left you their contact information should be “Business 101” knowledge. They know full well they will at some point be contacted by your business because they left their information.
From thank-you emails to outreach phone calls that ask qualifying questions, it’s about getting to know the guests and them getting to know more about what your company does and offers.
Your company’s focus should be on nurturing these leads into a relationship that leads to business or referrals. Don’t try to hard sell them on the first contact. Build relationships. BW
Nimlok is a reputable, quality brand of exhibit and display solutions, offered through a network of expert dealer partners. For more information, visit www.nimlok.com.