As you may know, I am a newbie to the trade show industry. I had no previous experience and virtually no knowledge of the industry prior to joining the Diers team in May. Taking this into consideration, I thought it wise to do a little research and take this opportunity to remind you of the basics. Whether you are an expert or a novice like me, these tips and tricks are definitely beneficial to keep in mind when preparing for trade shows.
1. Wear comfortable shoes--not new ones! I know from experience that whenever I get new shoes, I want to show them off. However, wearing new shoes for long hours (especially when you’re standing) can be miserable. Take the time to wear new shoes around your house for a few hours everyday to break them in prior to the show. Bringing a backup pair wouldn’t hurt either!
2. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! The goal is to grow your business, right? Well, the best way to do this is to meet people! Don’t be afraid to approach anyone, and make sure to have plenty of business cards! The more connections you make, the more leads you get, and the better your company does in the long run. Put yourself out there! After all, that’s why you’re there!
3. Come early. Coming early gives you the opportunity to see what your competition’s strategy is and how you can gain an advantage. You can adjust your display to more prominently feature a certain product or concept. It also allows you to have more intimate conversations with early birds since it’s before the show turns into a crazy circus with people running around like madmen. Being early will also calm your nerves. You have time to gather yourself and get in the zone.
4. Learn from your competitors and BE FRIENDLY! One big mistake you can make is thinking your display is already perfect and you don’t need to change it. Don’t fall into this way of thinking! Figure out what is working for your competition and what isn’t, and take this knowledge to adjust your own display to make it more powerful and effective. Another thing: be friendly competition! Don’t be afraid to talk to your competitors. Who knows, they just might have a client who needs something they don’t offer and send them your way! There’s nothing wrong with being nice, even to competitors!
5. Don’t rely on your memory--take notes! I know about this all too well. I’m sitting in class, it’s time to leave, I pack up, and then the professor hits us with some very important sounding information. Instead of getting my notes and pen back out like I know I should, I think to myself, “Oh, it’s okay. I’ll remember it.” Do I remember it? Nope. The same goes for trade shows. You will meet many people and have numerous conversations in a short time frame. How are you supposed to remember everything? Don’t give yourself the opportunity to forget anything. Even if you’re sure you’ll remember, take notes. Carry your notebook with you at all times so you don’t miss anything important. You (and your company) will thank you later.
Although I have not yet personally attended a trade show, I know these tips are helpful. Being comfortable makes you feel good which puts you in a better mood, making it easier to be friendly and network. Being friendly and networking grow your business. Yes, there is more to the trade show industry, but it’s always good to go back to the basics.