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    March 06, 2018

    How to Execute a Successful Trade Show - Showcase Fergus Falls March 13
    There are lots of reasons to exhibit at Showcase Fergus Falls with the top four: customers, suppliers, employees, and competitors. A trade show is a place where buyers and sellers meet. Buyers come to a trade show wanting to learn about the latest and greatest that you have to offer. The problem is the amount of competition you have in the direct vicinity. The way to overcome the problem is to take steps to insure that guests won’t miss your booth. People are attracted to good looking booths. Use bright colors and put effort into the design of your booth. It will make all the difference between visitors stopping or walking by. Make your messaging clear and visible from every direction. Use clear signs and well-labeled displays — don’t let visitors guess what your business is all about.

    Show your expertise and offer something of value to attendees. This can a handout on the state of the industry, top 10 lists of products, newest trends. Make sure to highlight your show specials so that buyers know that they need to buy at the show to receive the discount or special offer. Make sure your show special is posted and very clear.
    In addition to having that ‘right look’ and appealing design, your booth should be approachable. Smiling faces of professional staff are important. Have a variety of different display options to appeal to different people. Some people like flyers, pamphlets, and reading materials. Other attendees are visual and would like to see a video demo on an HD screen or tablet. Many will want to engage with the staff and ask questions. Make sure that people are available always.
    Promotional products and branded gift giveaways are a staple at trade shows. However, choosing the right promotional products to giveaway will insure that your investment is worthwhile.
    Make sure that the promotional product giveaway that you choose is something that is relevant to your brand and useful to the consumer. That is the best combination to insure that they are kept for long periods of time. Some of the most popular promotional products for trade shows include:

    Pens: A good old standby. Everyone still needs a pen and they are kept for a long period and even have a transfer value since recipients might give them to others.
    Bags: Everyone always needs something to carry all that stuff they pick up at a trade show. Reusable bags are kept much more often now than in the past for their environmental benefits.
    Electronic Gadgets: USB or thumb drives always rank among the type of promotional item that people would like to receive. Mobile device cases and pop sockets are also always well received.
    Cups & Mugs: Cups and mugs are kept for long periods of time and get a lot of use. For the trade show attending crowd, though travel mugs are probably a better choice for usability.
    Folders, Binders, Notepads: These come in handy both during the trade show and after, they will often make it back to the office for use by the receiver and other staff members.

    At the Trade Show
    Treat it like a first date. Look your best and mind your manners. Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions. Breath mints are more valuable than gold at a trade show. Comfortable shoes are more valuable than breath mints.

    Come early. Leave late.
    Most shows allow you to enter the show hall early. This gives you time to organize the booth and make any last-minute changes. More importantly, it's the ideal time to walk the show, and get a better sense of what your competitors are showing. Stay later, there are fewer distractions, and you're more likely to have a casual, informative conversation.

    Meet the Competition
    Many companies are arrogant about their competitors. They see themselves as "the leaders," so what could they possibly learn? The answer is -- a lot. Even knowing that you are still the leader is valuable when targeting new markets and developing your marketing strategy.

    Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to other exhibitors. Friendliness is not a crime. You may be surprised at what you'll discover, and a friendly competitor has been known to send business your direction if the client doesn't fit their model. But let them know also about what you do and find out what their business is. You will want other non-competing exhibitors to refer visitors to your stand when appropriate, just as you will want to refer others to theirs.
    Engage with Your Customers
    Your customers come to trade shows to learn about new products, services, and companies. They want to feel valued. Your customers attend for any number of reasons, such as education, new products, visit colleagues, etc. When you are not there, it sends them a message, one you do not control. Visitors can’t always judge by first appearances! Moreover, even if they may not be buying for themselves, they may still be buying for someone else. So however tired you are, however unengaged they may appear to be, let good manners and common courtesy always be your watchword.
    You will probably already know very well that running a stand is a full-time job while an exhibition is on, and it should never be left unattended. Every 5 minutes that your stand is unattended, your investment in the event will not be making you money.
    The secret of a successful show is to meet as many good prospects and clients as possible in the time available, however you might need to develop an exit strategy, so you can move on politely to meet others as soon as it is appropriate. “Thank you for stopping by; I do hope you enjoy the rest of your visit here” “Do take a leaflet/card/sample” “Let’s make a date to meet again to talk in more detail when things are less busy.”

    Reach Out on Social Media
    You should already have a social media marketing plan in place for your trade show. One way to use social media is to engage with people who have checked in at the venue or mentioned the trade show on social media. Invite them to your booth and offer a special incentive through social channels. However, never ever check your smartphone in the booth. Step away while a colleague stays engaged. You might as well be picking your nose. It sends the same message -- Go Away! Have questions? Send me an email or call. I promise to give you more than my "bare minimum."
    Prepare for the follow-up
    After all the hard work of attending Showcase Fergus Falls, it can be tempting to pack up, rest your feet, and go back to “business as usual” dealing with emails you missed while you out. But this is sheer folly. For the best results, this is when the ‘real work’ starts, converting all those leads into sales. Prepare your follow-up contact-messages and reconnect within the next week. Make time for all those invaluable, top-priority follow-up calls and thank people for stopping by.
    To Sum Up
    Carrying off a successful trade show involves a great deal of planning. Most importantly, be friendly and inviting. Strike up a conversation and be sure to have a short introduction ready and…have fun!

    Lisa Workman, President
    lworkman@fergusfalls.com, (218) 736-6951
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