As a relatively new startup, you’re probably looking forward to your first trade show with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and incredible pressure to make an amazing first impression that results in huge profits. Don’t do that to yourself. Instead, follow these five straightforward trade show tips.
Integrate Trade Shows into a Larger Strategy
One of the biggest mistakes startups make is that they think trade shows are all about the ROI. The last thing you should be thinking about when planning out your event strategies is pushing for sales. This is outreach, not sales. If you put too much emphasis on selling at your first trade shows, you’re actually going to be missing out on the greatest opportunities that these events hold: networking. Focus on making connections and improving brand awareness. The sales will come later.
Help with Setup and Breakdown
Beside the noble act of simply being a helpful and responsible human being, there are plenty of other reasons to help setup and breakdown the booth. For starters, nothing brings you more credit and respect from your employees getting down in the trenches with them, rolling up your sleeves and doing the work that nobody else likes to do. So bonding with your employees is a big benefit right there.
Network Before the Crowds Show Up
If your antennae are up and searching for networking opportunities, pre-show setup is a great time to do it. Many vendors around you will likely be too busy during the show to chat with you, and you’ll be pretty busy yourself. But it’s not very hard to at least break the ice with some quick introductions and small talk while you’re setting up your exhibition display counters and merchandise, creating an opening for deeper networking later on.
Trade Leads With Other Vendors
Another great way to profit from attending your first trade show is to exchange leads with vendors who are not direct competitors. Many new startups look at trade shows as a type of battle with the other vendors for the attention and business of the attendees. This perspective is understandable and natural, but the truth is that many of the vendors around you will make better allies than competitors. Look for companies in related industries so that you can create mutually beneficial relationships.
Invite Your Best Clients to the Show — And Then Pay For Everything
Send your top customers tickets to the show, and then pick up the tab for everything. Pay for their airfare, transportation and accommodations, and be sure to take some time out for a dinner, after-party or other small-scale meetup where you can have some time together away from the crowds.
Don’t Stress Your First Trade Show
Use these five tips to help you make your first trade show a fun and rewarding event that will increase brand awareness, build some deeper relationships and set the stage for long-term success.