Whether you are a well-established brand or a start-up that is only a few months old, showcasing your product at a trade show can be essential to helping your business develop and grow. Many of our clients ask us whether they should pay to exhibit at trade shows and conferences but the answer ultimately depends on what they hope to gain from the experience.
Before deciding to part with your hard-earned money, it is important to do some research and make sure you are particular about which trade show you attend. The best way of identifying relevant shows is by considering trade associations and monitoring the event listings of well-renowned venues, such as the Excel or Olympia in London, or EventCity in Manchester. You can also look into what your competitors are doing and where they have been over the past 12 months. Check out their company news page and keep an eye out for any expo logos on their sites.
Once you have homed in on the trade shows you want to exhibit at, here are a few tips to ensure that you maximise your time:
When you’re at the show it can be easy to stay at your stand and not venture out into the hectic crowds, but make sure you give yourself enough time to network. Bring a few of your team members with you to hold down the fort and then go and explore. Most exhibitions will have lists of delegates attending and exhibiting, so have a look through and introduce yourself to people you think will be influential in helping your business grow.
We attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s biggest technology show, in Las Vegas this year to support our clients in networking and making the most of the array of people there. Over 35,000 buyers attend CES every year, trying to find the next big thing and it was our job to ensure they knew about our clients and the work they were doing. Ahead of the show, we arranged meetings and demonstrations for not only buyers but also journalists, helping increase their brand awareness in the mainstream press. As a result of the time we spent networking, we were able to secure some incredible coverage including BBC, The Daily Telegraph and Stuff for Smarter, the pioneering IoT business behind the world’s first wi-fi connected kettle.
Stand out from the crowd
With hundreds of other companies attending expos, it can be a challenge to stand out from the crowd, so make the most of the space you have. Standard giveaways are a good place to start and are a quick way to improve the visibility of your brand, but don’t forget to be creative! Regardless of your budget, there will always be something fun and attractive you can do to get people talking. It can be as big as the design of your stand, or as small as a challenge for those walking past to get involved in.
Charity Water, a non-profit organisation which introduces clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries, invites visitors to walk two 18kg containers of water across a 45-metre platform to help them understand the hardships faced by villagers in developing nations who have to fetch water from sources miles away from their homes. Simple but powerful.
Don’t forget to follow up
You’ve got through the day, but your hard work is not quite over. Once you’ve established a presence and gathered names and business cards, it is important to follow up and organise those vital business meetings and lunches. Ensuring return on investment, whether it is leads, meetings, sales or traffic to your website, is key and the best way to judge if you have had a trade show success.
Trade shows can be incredibly beneficial, but it is important to weigh up the costs with the returns you hope to gain by attending. If you do your research and commit the time to networking, you will be well on your way.