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Ten tips to be successful at fairs and trade shows

Here's a checklist for you with some important things you should consider for a successful participation at a trade show:

1. Visit the show the year before you want to become involved to see what it's like and to get inspiration and ideas for your own participation. Ask
different exhibitors about their experience and ask if they return every year for the same show.
Think about which type of booth you will probably need in order to make the best impression.

2. Once you've decided to participate, make sure to get a good spot.
The best spots are occupied by large companies, but there are always good spots left. Try to get a spot in the triangle between the center of the room and the extreme left and right portion. It's in this triangle traffic will be greatest.

3. Send out invitations to your best customers along with a map of where your stand is and tell them that they will receive something special if they visit. Suggest a cheap/good/fine accommodation for them, so that it becomes easy for them to make the decision to come. Please also suggest other activities that they can engage in as well.
If there's a play at a nearby theatre - tell your customers and give them one more reason to spend money on a trip. Perhaps you can get them tickets to the show as well.

4. Organize marketing materials to hand out at the show.
Talk to your suppliers if they have the material or can fix it for you.
Remember that most brochures end up in the trash.
Don't give away expensive brochures to everyone. Press a cheaper flyer to complement your more expensive and informative brochure. Make sure that the flyer clearly talks about all the advantages of your company and that your contact information is included.
When you meet someone who is more interested, you can pick out the heavy artillery - your best looking brochure.

5. Keep your booth clean and smooth. Bring one or two of your best products or services. A trade show is conglomerated enough anyway. Let others make the mistakes that confuse the visitors.
It's good to have a new or a newly updated product to introduce at the show.
Don't forget to tell the media about your new product.

6. Make your message easy to see. Put up a billboard where you post your main advantages. Illuminate the sign and place it where everyone can see it and no one can stand in its way. Catch people going past by offering them candy or something edible on your stand. Most people consider it rude to just grab something and then leave, so they will stop for a moment before moving on.
This”time”is the time you have to make contact.

7. Create passive contacts. Not everyone wants to talk to you right now.
Have a large bowl where the interested can drop off their business card. Fill the bowl halfway with the other cards (perhaps from your own business card binder) to invite people to something that others seem to have wanted. Count each contact as a gain. Work to get more contacts. This is the purpose of you being at the fair.

8. Create active contacts. Decide to do this seriously. Fight!
It is said that of 20 people walking by your booth, there is one person who is a potential customer. Tell yourself that you will find this customer.
Ask open questions to all who pass by. Question:”What kind of shoes do you like best?”If you get the right answer to your opening question, ask specific questions about the person's problems and needs. Use their comments as a reason for you to tell them how you can solve their problems. Most calls at a trade show is short. Don't waste your time. Try to find out if a person really wants to place an order and whether the person has the authority to do so. Take notes directly on the person's business card, so you don't forget what you have talked about.

9. Walk around the fair when you have time. Even if you decide not to participate in the show, pay a visit anyway. It's at these shows that you have the chance to really study your competitor's best arguments. This is where they show their very best. Take their brochures and study them at home.
Spend time and talk to other exhibitors to ensure that you make contacts for possible future collaborations. Suggest joint marketing with businesses that complement yours - talk about having each other's products in each other's the catalogs, for example.

10. A lot of important things take place after the show has closed, so follow up, follow up, follow up.
Call your most interested visitors directly after the show (while they still remember you - and make sure you're ahead of your competitors).

And remember - even if your face hurts, make sure that you smile all the time. Smiles are selling.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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