Imagine you’re standing on a tradeshow floor for hours, handing out brochures and chatting with booth visitors who increasingly seem more interested in the candy you’re giving away than what you’re actually selling. Sound familiar? You may ask yourself, “What’s the point?” You’ve paid a lot to attend this tradeshow or conference, but don’t see any results or sales as a result.

In most situations, it’s not that the tradeshow or event wasn’t right for your business, but rather your execution and preparation wasn’t what it could have been to make the event a success. In this three-part blog series, we’ll share key strategies and best practices for making trade shows, conferences and events powerful and profitable for your company.

When it comes to exhibiting at tradeshows, you need to position yourself for success. It takes more than a slick brochure and bowl of candy to make an impact (though those are essential, too).

  1. You must give attendees a reason to care: Get them to talk to you! Most events have anywhere from a few dozen to thousands of booths, so make sure you’re standing out in the crowd and attracting visitors to you and your business. Just because you’re there, doesn’t mean attendees will automatically seek you out. Drawing people in might mean that bowl of candy, but it can also mean participating in the conference conversation on Twitter or standing in the aisle and introducing yourself.
  2. Give attendees a reason to remember you: Spark a conversation, get people to ask you a question in return. The focus of this goal is to get people talking, so you can determine if their needs align with your offering. When you have real conversations and provide valuable information, attendees will have a reason to remember you and you can qualify your leads. And be sure to give them the brochure or your business card for reference, though don’t rely on these exclusively to get the post-event call. Which leads us to…
  3. Give attendees a reason to engage with you after the show: Secure the contact information! This might mean asking for a business card or scanning an attendees’ badge if the event offers the technology. When they say they’re out of cards, offer to write down their info. No – it isn’t pushy. It’s just sales which is why you’re at the show, after all. Then, follow up! This might mean a series or emails or calls, but make the effort to move the leads you collect further down the path toward sales.

In our next blog post, we’ll cover essential pre-event planning to make your exhibit a success. We also recommend reading Chapter 24 of Customer, LLC: The Small Business Guide to Customer Engagement and Marketing, which provides real examples and key strategies for making the most of tradeshows and events. Stay tuned!