Exhibiting at a trade show can be a stressful experience, but it can also result in thousands of new leads and generate new business for you. One thing is for sure: people expect to pick up promotional items at trade shows. However, it takes more than just setting out a few dozen pens to capture new business. Here are some steps to take to make your next trade show exhibit a success.
1. Determine your audience. If you are trying to develop business in a new field, become familiar with the industry and think about which promotional gifts will be especially appreciated and used.
2. Order literature and promotional merchandise well in advance. Not only does it take time for items to be customized and printed, you’ll need to make sure that you can get sufficient quantities by your deadline. You’ll also need to allow enough time to resolve any problems with your order such as misprints or backorders.
3. Set up your display creatively. Attractive displays show that you respect people’s time and attention. Banners, backdrops, literature racks and advertising items should be displayed in eye-catching and innovative ways to draw prospects to you.
4. Use promotional products to break the ice. Offer a prospect a pen or pencil to start a conversation. Once you discover his or her needs, you can discuss how your business can meet them.
5. Use unique promotional items. Promotional stress balls are available in almost any conceivable size, shape and subject matter. They are a great conversation starter that will keep your logo in front of people for years. The more original your products are, the more they will stand out in people’s minds.
6. Establish a method of capturing leads. Have people sign up for your mailing list, or set out a basket to collect business cards. Always provide a pen with your logo on it when you ask them to sign up for your mailing list.
7. Offer premium promotional gifts for people who complete a questionnaire or make a purchase. Customers and highly qualified prospects should receive more incentive to do business with you than those who are simply scouting for the best pens and keychains.
8. Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature about your business as well as a good supply of business cards. Be sure to provide folders with your logo on them to hold papers and pamphlets. This makes it much easier for prospects to find and review your literature after the show.
9. Stay engaged. Promotional gifts are an effective method of drawing people to your display, but they can’t do your job for you. Nothing takes the place of listening to a prospect and providing solutions. Always thank people for visiting, even if you don’t think they are well-qualified prospects. You never know who they know. People do talk after the show, and they will remember exhibitors who were rude or disinterested.
10. Be sure to follow up with leads from trade shows. Personal emails are always appreciated. Don’t ignore people on your mailing list either. Even if they are not ready to buy, they may be planning a future purchase. If you send printed matter, include a promotional gift as a reminder and a token of thanks. Flat items like mouse pads and refrigerator magnets go a long way to establish goodwill, and will continue to advertise for you long after the trade show.