What I learned from my first trade show as a small business owner:
Giveaways that won’t end up in the round recycle bins:
I guess this goes with knowing your audience (attendees). We had people seeing the flashlights and asking for one, which worked out sense, they were with our prospect group. Gave away about 10 that we weren’t targeting but who knows who will see it – it’s advertising right? www.bentleypromotions
was awesome with their prices and to work with. Get prices from couple places so you have an idea of the going rate and they beat all the prices I had already received. They did all my giveaways and I had them get my banner I designed printed and that looked great and a great price.
: Design easy to read, professional looking brochures, handouts. I used www.iprints.com
and it was easy and they looked great. However, they are a bit slow on the brochure printing so allow yourself time. In fact I had a business consultant stop by and ask who did all the design work for the materials and banner because it all looked awesome. I was very proud to say I did. Lots of late nights and long hours but it paid off.
Pre marketing to hot/med clients
: Of the 1600 attendees on the pre show registration list, we sent out 175 letters introducing HFS and trying to get them to stop by our booth for a special gift (led key ring flashlight set) and to register for a raffle ($50 American Express GC).
if you can afford to sponsor something at the show that will allow you to get noticed – do it. We had the following sponsorships and each one was successful and getting people to our booth or in some cases to call us prior to the show:
Vendor Virtual Booth- part of the exhibitor list. This will also stay up and running for 60 to 90 days after the show. Therefore, another way of advertising that ran from January to June in our case when we first set up our info on the web page. http://www.facilitiesexpo.com/fex/index.po
We went to the New England one! (This works for pre show marketing and post show marketing)
Show Sponsor: Lists your company name/logo on the expo/trade show website.
Pre-Show Eminder – sent out to all pre registered attendees and it reminded the attendees of the upcoming show and highlighted only our company (HFS).
Registration Booth Sponsorship – We were allowed to put a postcard highlighting our booth so each person would see it at registration plus we also had business card magnets for each person. The registration clerk all wore our HFS vests and the registration desk area had Hometown Forecast Services across each registration panel. Make sure your information is up there and out so people can see it and pick it up! (Lots going on when many are coming in to register and the Expo team forgot to put the stuff out at first but I noticed it early enough and got it corrected).
Floor Plan Sponsorship – we sponsored the map of the floor plan that each person was handed upon registration so our booth jumped out at attendees.
Post Show Eminder – we are in the process of writing the post show eminder that will go out to all participants who attended and provided an email address. We are writing that today.
Make them want to stop
: Nice inviting booth that catches attention (dress nice/neat)! Don’t just sit at your booth and watch them walk by – because they will. I couldn’t believe the people running their booths that just sat at their booths, often behind their table as people just walked by. Pull them into a conversation and get them into your booth! Of course the weather is always a topic of conversation so we probably have an advantage there. We also had live radar running and it caught their eye especially with the storm system running up the east coast and into the Northeast. We also had a 32 inch monitor with Hurricane Katrina footage and other severe weather events running.
Hiding name/company badge is an art
: As people walked by many had their badge covered by a coat or sweater so you couldn’t see if they were someone you hoped to reach out to or not. Others who didn’t have a coat strategically placed their trade show materials in that arm and hid their name badge that way. I decided enough was enough and got them over to our booth anyway! Some we had hoped to talk to, others we didn’t but who cares the more people that know about or company, all the better.
Badge Card/ID Scanner
: Looking back, I should have rented an ID scanner which would have made it easier for the people who said they didn’t have a business card or ran out! This would have allowed me quick and easy access without all the writing. I didn’t realize what it did until the show was in full swing. The attendee just hands you their ID badge and you scan it into the little electronic hand held and you have their info stored. I think you can later upload the data to your computer. – Would have saved time and less room for errors.
Other show Vendors:
I spoke to 7 other vendors at the show before the exhibit floor was open to the attendees. I didn’t want them to miss a sale when I was trying to sell our products to them so we spoke before and after the show or when the sessions were slow for traffic. Use the exhibitor list as a potential new business lead generator. I am hoping we can get a least 2 or 3 of the vendors as clients.
Qualified Business Card Control
: We received about 50 business cards from attendees – or created them (from their badge info) if they didn’t have one with them. You may think 50 isn’t that great with the 175 that we pre marketed too. The good news is about 48 of these have a real interest in our company and products. Of course some are more interested than others but they all have a low to medium interest level or higher. I have worked shows in the past for another company I worked for and we got a huge stack of business cards but many were just put into the jar for the raffle but had little or no interest in the products/services being offered. Some may disagree on this but there were many people attending that would not be viable prospects and with a small company, I don’t have the manpower to follow up on each business card especially if they had no need for our services.
Post Show Follow up
: Strike while the coals are still hot and they remember you!
I pulled together the 50 or so business cards we received and researched further. We are working all the follow ups this week and next which should be perfect timing with the post show eminder going out later this week too for the trade show management team.
Sorry for the length but I wanted to let you all know what worked and what we learned.
Thanks for all who helped with ideas/suggestions. Hopefully by write up will help others who plan on attending a show!