At the age of 22, I exhibited at my first trade show for Ministry of Sound where I was their official merchandise distributor. I then went on to show at trade fairs all over the world from Scotland to China.
On the outside looking in, trade shows seem easy to prepare for however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a lot of important issues to address when preparing for a trade show and there is nothing worse than feeling out of your element.
As valuable as trade shows can be, they can also be a nightmare if not managed correctly. The first thing you need to address is a budget. If you’re about to take part in your first ever trade show, try not to get caught up in the hype of it and over spend on stand space and materials. You need to have a realistic figure in mind and try your hardest to stick to it. Ask yourself what you really need not what you would like to have. When creating a budget, understand that the fee for the actual stand space is only the beginning. It’s the add-ons like tables, chairs, signage, Internet connections, and electricity where the big money is spent.
Once you have decided on a budget, you will then need to contact the organisation running the event and ask them to show you a floor plan. You can then decide on where you would like your stand to be situated. At my last trade show with my ecommerce platform Gloople, our stand was located right next to an ecommerce workshop. This was a great position for us as all of the people coming out of the workshop, was interested in having an Online Store and was walking right past our stand.
You then need to look at how much time is going to be spent setting up your stand and whether you will have to hire someone to do this for you. Again, this will be an extra cost so if your stand doesn’t require much creation, you would be best to do this yourself with work colleagues. On the subject of colleagues, you will need to make a decision about whom and how many people to send to the trade show. You can’t just bring yourself, even if you are a one-person show. You will need to give yourself a break and it is imperative that you do not leave your stand unmanned. Are you going to have someone walking around the show, building relationships with possible clients/partners? Also worth thinking about; travel, accommodation and food supplies.
Now you have decided on the above options, you can now look at what you want to go on your stand. You are going to need some sort of book to capture leads as you will find some people turn up without business cards. It is crucial for you to have business cards, flyers, pens and any other stationary necessary, on your stand; preparation is key for trade shows.
Your stand structure is organised, your checklist for the stand is nearly complete, the only thing left for you to do is marketing. Are you willing to spend money on advertising for the event? If not, use Social Media and Email Marketing to let people know that you are going to be there. Each trade show has an official Twitter handle – make sure you follow and tweet to them because they will retweet you.
With trade show’s being a great source of brand awareness, lead generation and even sales; you need to be prepared and ready to face the business world with full professionalism.
Are you prepared for your trade show?