As a marketing professional it’s likely you’ve attended a trade show, manning your own exhibition stand with the aim of generating sales, interest and contacts for your company. If you’ve been invited to attend a trade show as a guest it’s a different experience altogether, but one that you can get just as much from.
Before the trade show
Planning and preparation before attending a trade show can make it far more productive and ensure that you get more out of it. The first place to start is by pre-registering for the event, not only will this generally give you a discount, it means you’ll be processed quicker on the day too.
At least several weeks before the show you’re likely to receive a schedule of workshops and seminars as well as details of who will be exhibiting. This means you can get a good idea of what you want to do while attending the event and think about your overall objectives, reflecting this in your plans. For instance, if your main aim is to re-establish old relationships you can plan ahead and arrange to meet contacts, or if you want to hear new ideas you can ensure you get a front row seat to an innovative lecture.
It’s a great idea to set up some pre-arranged meetings with key clients and figures that will be attending the event too. While booking in meetings can be beneficial, ensure you leave yourself enough time to experience the event and meet new people.
During the event
How you get the most out of a trade show will depend on your own personal objectives but there are some things everyone should do. Firstly, while you’re sure to have individuals and companies that you want to speak to already in mind, don’t dismiss newcomers or start-ups. They could offer you something new or a service at a better value. Going to a trade show with an open mind means you have the right attitude to discover something new and innovative. While you’re there speaking to as many people as possible and learning about different companies, including your competitors, can help you learn about upcoming opportunities, wider industry trends and potential client leads.
Be sure to take advantage of the educational opportunities on offer too, you could pick up new ways of working through seminars and conference sessions.
After you’ve headed home
After the trade show has finished don’t waste the information or contacts you’ve gained from it. Most people leave a show with a bag full or brochures, leaflets and business cards that eventually end up in the bin. Sort through the information once you’re home and decipher what is useful and what can be thrown away. It’s also worth considering what your colleagues may find useful.
If you’ve met someone you think could be a useful contact, drop them an email a few days later to ensure they remember you too. Improving and forging new professional relationships is one of the biggest advantages of attending trade shows and can prove invaluable to business operations.