Do’s and Don’ts at Trade Shows

Trade shows frustrate me.  So much money being spent and such poor execution. They can be a waste of time if you do not pay attention to detail.

What all marketing activities have in common is striving to get a business in front of the customers, but there are different ways of accomplishing that. With traditional methods like ads or digital marketing, you’re focusing on marketing to a buyer persona, but it’s also possible to be closer to the action.

Trade shows can present an excellent opportunity for a business to promote their new product and catch the eyes of customers. However, in order to make the best out of the trade show, you should come prepared. Let’s have a look at some do’s and don’ts at trade shows you should keep in mind:

DO: Get a Good Spot

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of having a good spot at a trade show, but it’s definitely among the things you should make sure to get right. A good place is the one where there’s naturally the most foot traffic. Ensuring that you’ve snatched a favorable spot means that you’ll have more visitors to your booth than you would someplace else.

If you wish to get a beneficial spot, scouting the exhibit hall way before the trade show will be helpful. Make sure to register for the event on time, so you don’t have to worry about your location.

DON’T: Overspend

Not allocating your budget correctly will lead you into overspending, which is one of the main things you want to avoid. Like any other marketing activity, participating in a trade show is supposed to bring you a return on your investment. It is why failing to come up with a budget or stick to it can seriously jeopardize the profitability of the trade show for you.

The same goes for your marketing budget before the event. Of course, you have to let your target audience know that you will be attending. Still, it would be unwise to spend too much of your resources on a marketing strategy that isn’t going to be efficient. Always consider your potential ROI and act accordingly.

DO: Know What Your Goal Is

You should focus on a few priority goals to avoid being overwhelmed. You might be promoting a new product and looking for sales, attracting new customers, or scoping out the competition. Whatever your primary goal is, you should determine it in advance and plan how you are going to carry it out.

Knowing what you want will give you a few ideas on what you should focus on at the trade show is the starting point. Without having prior experience at a trade show will make it a much more difficult mission. Come up with a couple of priority tasks and write down a plan to see them completed no matter what.

DON’T: Come Unprepared

Even though it’s not the best practice to overwhelm attendees with promotional material, you still need to prepare it. It could be a booklet, brochure or something as simple as a flier. It’s going to be an essential part of your marketing at the trade show. However, you need to be prepared to make the best of it. It should be used only as a means to ensure your booth and your products stay in the attendees’ memory. Unless you establish a connection with them, promotional material likely isn’t going to be enough to get their attention.

Your staff should be aware of this too if you’re hiring help to service your booths. You also have to train them and prepare them, which includes filling them into your marketing ways and preferred ways of communicating with prospects. They may not need basic training, depending on who you are hiring, but you should still make sure they’ll be on the same page as you.

DO: Draw Attention to Your Display

Giveaways are a helpful way to draw attention to your display, but you can also do it in many different ways. Food and beverage businesses at a trade show have the opportunity to offer samples to interested attendees, which can be a great way of drawing attention. What’s more, the giveaway could include things that pair well with your products, which would be something different enough from the rest to stand out.

Including some nice branded swag into your trade show exhibit is another great way to ensure you’ll catch the eye of attendees. If you want your booth to be visited and popular at the trade show, you have to be prepared to give stuff out for free.

DON’T: Act Bored or Unapproachable

Trade shows can be challenging to work, but that doesn’t mean you should let your energy levels drop. Even though everyone at the trade show knows it’s not advisable to act bored or unprofessional in any way; at times people aren’t aware of their body language. Unfortunately, sometimes it can reveal you’re really feeling tired or not up for talking with trade show attendees.

In order to avoid this, make sure you’re not crossing your arms, sitting down, or turning your back to the people walking past your booth. Being friendly and open is what you want to do instead. Make every moment count and interact with as many people as you can — but don’t focus on quantity over quality. If you want to eat or use your cell phone, leave the booth area. No one wants to see a potential supplier busy talking on their cell phone or eating.

DO: Give Out Samples

Make sure you are engaging trade show attendees by giving out samples of your products.  Just because you know what your product looks like and/or tastes like or what it does, does not mean potential customers will know. I see this a lot in the international pavilion at food and beverage trade shows.  People are sitting at their booth, talking to each other, and not engaging potential customers with samples.  And there is always one thing missing from the aisle:  show attendees.  I always think, what a waste of money.

Key Takeaways

Entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry can use trade shows as a great marketing tool to get closer to customers, raise awareness of their brand or promote new products. However, to be successful in their mission, they must first determine what it is, come up with a plan to make it happen, and then act on it during the trade show. While the event is underway, it’s also important to stick to the best practices of exhibiting at trade shows.

Trade shows are like theater. You are always on stage and you want to be the center of attention. Trade shows only become a tool to sell your product after you have determined how you are going to get awareness at the show and attendees to stop at your booth.

This list of the dos and don’ts has hopefully helped you gain sufficient insight into the industry and inspired you to make the best out of your next trade show.

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