HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST TRADE SHOW

Hints & Tips series

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Lots of  independent business owners want to be selling to shops trade show are often seen as the place to go! So what should you do to prepare?

Your first trade show or exhibition is bound to be exciting, but maybe a little scary too. Trade shows can attract thousands and are a great way for you to increase your brand awareness and to get your product seen by the right people. If you’re confident that your business is ready to exhibit at a trade show there’s no doubt you’ll benefit from the opportunity. Stand space can be a big investment for small businesses often running into thousands of pounds, it’s therefore important you prepare yourself so you can make the most out of your time there. Here are our tips for preparing for your first trade show.

Budget and set objectives

Identifying your objectives is one of the first steps to having a successful trade show experience. Ask yourself what your goals are for the event, whether that’s selling to retailers, making business contacts or just getting a look at the competition!  

Make a checklist of everything you’ll need to pay for, including catering, travel and accommodation if the trade fair is not in your city. Of course not all companies have a big budget, but that doesn’t mean you should opt for the cheaper, smaller stands in the corner, as this will compromise your business. Instead, make sensible, money saving decisions such as registering and making bookings well in advance. Not every business is ready for the trade show experience, don’t allow yourself to be pushed into going if you know you don’t have the finances. There are other alternatives to get you started and, there’s always a next time.

Take the opportunity to network

Whether it’s their 20th trade show or if they’re a first timer like you, there is a lot you can learn from those exhibiting next to you.

Look at the exhibitors list before the show and see who’s attending. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a potential customer or a competitor, shoem then you’re interested and ask them about their company, then they will be more likely to ask you about yours.

Make a note of people’s names, collect business cards and email addresses from all visitore that show an interest in your stand, don’t give them a brochure until you have asked for their business card! These will come in handy later.

Make sure your stand is ready

Nobody wants to give a bad first impression, especially when your business is at stake.  Lack of preparation could lead to a whole host of different issues; a demo could go wrong or you could be stuck with no products at all.  

Make sure you have plenty of business cards and brochures to hand out.  Take time to carefully select a friendly, well informed employee to help you, someone who genuinely loves your products.  They should be approachable and able to engage with other people naturally.

Take advantage of social media

It’s the 21st century, there is no excuse to not be online, all your competitors will be.

Before the trades show let your followers and customers know what’s going on and where you’re going to be.  You can also take advantage of any free marketing offered by the trade show hosts by  uploading your images and compnay information to their website well in advance, you never know your products could be featured in their literature!

During the trade show you can post pictures of your stand or even live stream a demonstration.  Post about the day after the trade show is over.  Yes you’ll be busy, but social media is an invaluable tool you can uses to communicate with people all over the world.  You could even write some posts in advance and save them to your drafts if you want to save time.

Finally and most importantly – follow up

The show may be over but you’re not donw yet ! You are likely to come away from the trade show with a pocket full of business cards.  Be sure to send a personalised email shortly after whilst those that visited you still remember who you are.  Give them a quick re-cap about your business and thank them for visiting your stand.  Don’t wait for them to contact you!  If you wait more than a couple of weeks to make your move, you have probably missed your chance.

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