Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

tradeshow attendance

Tradeshow Planning as an Attendee

Are you doing a little tradeshow planning? Are you going as an exhibitor, or just a tradeshow attendee?

If you’re not going to exhibit, you may think that you don’t really need a concise plan, except for a few exhibitors to visit and some conferences to attend.

But look at this again: as a conference attendee in your industry, you have so much more you can come back with.

For instance, you might do a little spying! Yup, make a list of your main competitors and see how many are exhibiting. Then make a point to stop by each booth, and perhaps even chat up some of the booth attendees on their new offerings. Now, any well-trained booth staffer will know what he can and can’t talk about, but that doesn’t mean your competitors have trained their staff well. (Have yours?) Just by asking a few innocent questions, you might uncover information on an upcoming product or service they’ll be offering soon that your company wants to know about.

The tradeshow is also a great time to meet partners and reinforce alliances. Everybody’s time will likely be heavily scheduled, so plan your specific meetings well in advance. If you wait until the week before, chances are good that the person you want to have dinner with on Saturday night is completely booked up.

Next, walk the show floor with an eye to what exhibits stand out. Are there any new exhibit properties or accessories that catch your eye? Are your competitors setting up booths with new cutting edge materials, or are they using the same old exhibits from 1996? Just note what types of things catch your eye and draw your attention. Is it a ceiling banner? Is it an eye-popping graphic? Is it an unusual demonstration? Collect these good ideas and you’ll be able to consider them for your own exhibit in the future.

During all of this ‘work,’ make sure you plan a little R-n-R for yourself. After all, chances are that you’re in a big city that offers entertainment you may not have in your town. Plan at least one night out with co-workers or industry colleagues if you can. Dinners are always great, especially if you heading for an unusual restaurant (I vividly recall the dinner with clients at the Japanese restaurant I had last year!) – it will usually afford you plenty of time to get to know each other better in far different circumstances that you haven’t experienced before.

No doubt you’ll have a good handle on the little things, such as comfortable shoes (you’ll be on your feet a LOT) and clothes, lots of business cards to hand out, show planning schedule, small first aid kit, etc. But nothing like a good reminder.

So get on out there and have a great time at the show!

How to Successfully Work a Tradeshow

It’s been said the best way to learn about tradeshows if you’re new to the industry, or new to the experience, is to attend one or two shows before you attempt to organize or handle the actual booth.

So DO IT! Spend a few days. Get there early and watch the set-up, booth designs, and stick around for the tear-down, too. It’ll help you get a look at the strategic behind-the-scenes planning and an overall feel for how tradeshows work.

When it comes time to actually display, many small companies vying for attention have found that it makes more sense to invite the buyers to come by booth and set up appointments. With thousands of people streaming by your booth over the duration of the tradeshow, it’ll give out a much better impression if you look organized. If you look disorganized, how will you convince a potential buyer or distributor that you can deliver the product?

Before adding a show to your exhibit list, you might strongly consider attending as a visitor, which will give you a good sense of who is there, who your competition is and who’s on the guest list. With the large number of shows that can touch on your industry, or even your niche of your industry, it’ll help you determine which shows are right for your company.

Look at tradeshow marketing as just one prong of your marketing efforts. No smart marketer will put all his eggs in one basket.

But spending time at a tradeshow either as an exhibitor or a visitor is a great way to meet a large number of potential customers and business partners in a short period of time. It’s a compressed experience: your time is compressed and the amount of people you can meet is also quite compressed.

The key to success whether as a visitor or exhibitor is to be over-prepared. Know who you’d like to meet, know what companies you want to see, whether as a competitor or as a potential business partner or customer. Do your homework before you leave for the show, and spend a little of your down time in your hotel room updating and making notes.

It’s all about taking control. Take control and you’ll be a success!

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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