5 Trade Show Tips to Connect with Buyers
Trade shows are an expensive undertaking, but they’re an invaluable way to connect with retail buyers, press, and other attendees – which means it’s important to take full advantage of the opportunity. Let’s talk about how to forge new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build loyalty.
1. Walk the Trade Show Floor
Before you begin presenting, one of the smartest things you can do as an exhibitor is walk the trade show floor. You’ll gain valuable insights about features of the trade show that you otherwise wouldn’t, even if you pay full attention to announcements from management about attendance and press coverage. By walking the floor, you’ll get a sense of the direction of foot traffic and the buyer demographic – and you’ll know whether this is the right show to invest in.
2. Attract Buyer Traffic
Decent graphics and charismatic staff members are a dime a dozen – especially at high-end trade shows. You’ll need to go above and beyond to draw attention to your booth. For example, incorporate a charging station into your booth with comfortable seating, so visitors can take a quick break and charge their smartphones and tablets. In addition to providing much-appreciated respite, you’ll also have a captive audience during the brief period they’re charging up.
Another idea is to incorporate attractive lighting into your booth to draw attention to your products. Trade shows are notorious for harsh fluorescent lighting fixtures overhead, which makes everyone look and feel tired. By using custom lights in your booth, you’ll stand out from the rest – and focus visitors’ attention where you want it.
3. Hold Their Attention
Once you have their attention, you’ll need to hold it for at least 30 seconds – which is how long it should take you to present a concise and content-rich elevator pitch that discusses your target audience’s pain points and how your product can help. Incorporate a product demo as proof that your solution works better than anyone else’s. Use props and invite audience members to participate to make a lasting impression.
Giveaways are another great way to hold the attention of an audience. Branded lanyards, pens, thumb drives, and luggage tags are great and all, but virtually every company will have some sort of swag. Instead, work with a supplier of premium products to come up with an enticing item to offer as a prize that fits in with your company’s overall theme.
4. Listen to Buyer Feedback
Buyers are your audience, and they know best. Retail sellers who attend trade shows are looking for items that will appeal to their buyers – and their feedback is invaluable. They know what sells and why it sells. If you receive feedback, don’t take it personally. It’s one of the greatest gifts an audience member can give you, and it’ll help you learn how to make your product more appealing to buyers everywhere.
5. Finally, Build Buyer Loyalty
You’re probably going to receive most of your orders at your exhibit, but remember to follow up with new connections after the show ends. If appropriate, invite your best customers and hot prospects out to dinner or other get-together one night after the show. This will give you the opportunity to get to know them personally, which will foster a long-lasting relationship between your company and individual buyers.
Remember to be enthusiastic and compassionate with your audience. Seasoned trade show veterans know that they’ll probably see the same buyers multiple times at multiple shows, so make sure you make a positive first impression and maintain a high level of courteous professionalism throughout your relationship.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and...