Tradeshows are undoubtedly a lot of work but are often effective ways to communicate your brand, catch up on the competition and connect with customers. So let’s look at a few of the top tradeshow tips for small businesses focused on helping you get the biggest return on your tradeshow dollar.
Have Something Big to Say
If you don’t have a big announcement you may want to save your money and attend a tradeshow rather than exhibit. Many companies, big and small, use key tradeshows as cornerstones of their product development schedule because of the natural buzz and press reporting at these shows. Consider aligning key launches around a specific, large tradeshow, then go all out with press releases, awareness campaigns and advertising just before the show to create buzz and share-worthy content that will bring the crowds to your booth.
Exhibit Based On Your Customer Not Your Industry
Many small businesses decide to spend their limited resources on going to and/or exhibiting at industry events. And for good reason. They’re easy to identify and great way to announce your brand and to check out the competition. But if your goals are to connect with customers, look for where your customers will be, especially key decision-makers: their industry tradeshows, where they sponsor, and where they go to launch their products and brands. You’ll be exhibiting with fewer competitors and have more direct access to more customers and prospects.
People love giveaways so of course you’re handing out prizes and doing drawers to lure more foot traffic to your booth. But to get further reach and more buzz, integrate social media into your giveaways and competitions. Instagram and Twitter are very effective channels for scaling your efforts beyond the tradeshow. Have people enter to win a great prize by posting pics or tweets with your hashtag and the official hashtag of the event. Follow up with them later and dedicate a screen in your booth to show all these hashtags as a live stream to encourage more people to join in and spread your word further.
You may think your salespeople are prepared to man a tradeshow booth, after all, they talk about your products and services all the time. But the pressure and volume of a booth is very different than sales meetings so don’t assume anything: prepare. Have several meetings about the goals of the show – what you’re launching who you’re targeting – and work with the team to develop prep materials with key messaging about your company, brand and any products you’re exhibiting. Prep should be for everyone in the booth and include features, benefits and how you stack up with the competition. Reiterate these key points over and over again, and consider testing your booth staff on messaging to ensure they have it down.
Aligning key initiatives around one big tradeshow, go to your customers, generating buzz beyond the booth, and getting everyone on message are just a few ways to maximize your return on tradeshows. Ultimately you’ll need to test, measure and analyze, like all marketing, to make sure these ideas work for you.