How to: Exhibit at a Trade Show for the First Time
Trade shows are a great way to get brand exposure and to network with existing and new customers. This is especially true for wholesale trade shows, because the suppliers aren’t likely to own a retail store where their customers can come in and see the products in person. If you’re looking to exhibit at a trade show for the first time, we’ve rounded up some tips to help get you started.
Plan your Budget
The first thing to do before you even look for a stand at a trade show is to plan your budget. There will be stand sizes and locations at most trade shows to suit every budget, so don’t be put off exhibiting altogether if your company’s not ready to part with too much cash the first time around. Your stand is not the only thing you will have to budget for so take your stock, staffing, the design of your stand, and marketing collateral into account as well.
Make the Most of your Stand
Your trade show display is one of the most important things to think about if you’re exhibiting at a trade show for the first time. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of other exhibitors at the trade show, so you need your display to stand out. This does not mean you have to break the bank, but it does mean you’ve to get creative. Visit a couple of trade shows in advance and get inspired.
Some brands at Autumn Fair go as far as building mini houses on-site to showcase their products in real life scenarios, while others get crafty and build their stand from scratch out of recycled boxes and pallets. What’s right for one brand won’t suit another, so design your stand in line with your products, and your brand’s own character.
Marketing is Key
Get your brand’s name out there before you attend the trade show, so your existing and potential customers are aware that you’re going. Send out emails a few weeks in advance to promote your attendance and the location of your stand. Send out another reminder a few days before so you’re fresh on the visitor’s agenda. Exhibitors that promote their attendance at a trade show in advance, raise the quality of the audience they attract by 46%. In addition, the conversion of stand visitors to qualified leads rises 50% when a pre-show promotion is used.
Social media is another way to optimise your attendance at trade shows and reach new customers. A bulk of the audience you should be aiming your social posts at are the followers of the trade show’s social pages. Tag and hashtag the trade show you’ll be exhibiting at on all your related posts, in both the hopes the trade show will re-share these on their own channels, and so the right audience can find them. In addition, like and comment on the trade show’s posts to let the visitors know you’ll be there, what you specialise in, and what your stand number is.
While pre and post trade show marketing is a must, you also need to think about the marketing collateral you’ll be bringing to the show. Get flyers or catalogues printed to give to visitors to take away. Another small, but very useful, thing to remember to bring is business cards. You’ll be handing out a lot, so think positive in terms of numbers when you’re getting them printed.
Set Realistic Goals
Before you go to the trade show, make a list of all the goals you want to accomplish while you are there and when you come home. Considering this is your first time exhibiting, you won’t have as clear an idea of what is realistic to achieve, as you will the next time you exhibit, but it’s good to have something to work off.
A lot of the customers you will get at trade shows, and particularly at wholesale trade shows, won’t be purchasing your products directly on the day. It’s vital that you take note of every lead you get at the show, so you can follow up with the customers afterwards. The people who came to your stand will have talked to a lot of other exhibitors, so don’t let them forget you and make the first move by contacting them after the show.
Trade shows aren’t only about generating sales and leads, another one of the reasons to exhibit at a trade show is to network. Make the most of your time at the show and get to know your competitors and learn some new insights. Take some time every day to walk around the show floor and become familiar with who your competitors are and what they have to offer. Trade shows, and particularly wholesale trade shows, are great places to look for upcoming trends, so take note of reoccurring themes and products.
If you’re exhibiting at an experienced large trade show, it will most likely have free talks and workshops. Make a plan before you go of the key seminars you want to attend. You can learn a lot from them, so don’t just dismiss them as something for the visitors to enjoy.