How To: Survive a Week-Long Trade Show

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Plan Ahead and Be Prepared for Everything

As you set your sights on your next trade show, you might be wondering how you’re going to make it through yet another one. Not because they aren’t valuable to your business, but because they can also require a lot of work and may sometimes seem a little overwhelming.

Direct Capital knows first hand. We recently provided tips on how to get the most out of your trade show, but now we’re taking it one step further. Below is a brief ‘trade show survival guide’ with steps you can take to help you stay energized and maximize your times at these events.

Trade Show Survival Guide

Step One: Plan Ahead

Make sure you have all of your materials ready before leaving. Have a short but sweet message for your show booth and prepare free gifts or giveaways for customers that visit your booth. Have product demos ready to go and bring along a hard copy or an actual product. Don’t rely solely on an online demo. Make sure you have all of your bases covered, just in case something goes awry.

Although you’ve been to shows before, things can always fall through the cracks, so remember to book the following:

  1. A lead retrieval machine so you never miss out on a potential opportunity. If the show you’re going to doesn’t provide them, then ensure you have some way of gathering leads.
  2. Electrical materials, i.e. plugs, outlets, etc.
  3. Internet connection

Step Two: Schedule Meetings Ahead of Time

You probably received a general list of attendees prior to the event so if there’s anyone on this list that you’re interested in meeting with, capture their attention long before the show. Schedule a meeting over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a coffee break. Like you, once they get to the show they may be extremely busy. Don’t miss out on your chance to meet with them.

Step Three: Clothing

There’s a chance you could be standing at a booth for 9 hours a day for the length of the show. Even though you won’t be walking long distances, it can still take a toll on your legs and back. Be sure to wear professional but comfortable shoes. For ladies, wear heels but bring flats and change halfway through the day. Another great option is wedges as they provide support for the entire foot. While men don’t have the luxury of changing from heels to flats, wearing new shoes the week of a trade show is not recommended.

Also, keep in mind that the temperatures often fluctuate in the show rooms. Bring clothes that allow you to wear layers to avoid being overly hot, or too cold.

Step Four: Know Your Booth Visitors

In order to get the most of your time there, it’s important to gain some understanding of your booth visitors. Make an effort to find out why there are checking out your booth. Are they genuinely interested in what you’re selling? Or are they stopping by just to collect the free gift you’re giving away? These kinds of questions will help you sort through your visitors and find out which ones are worth getting to know. Once you identify who your prospective buyers actually are, you can focus your efforts more clearly.

Step Five: Remember to Take Breaks

Arrange lunch breaks so both you and your representatives can remain energized. Breaks are also a good time to change the scenery a little – and help you clear your head. You’ve probably been talking with buyers all day and a little bit of movement can get you revitalized for the next round of customers.

Also remember to pack plenty of water. It’s important not just to stay hydrated but also to cope with the dry air which can weaken your voice. Keep snacks with you at the booth as well so you can stay energized and focused on the customers instead of your rumbling stomach.

Another way to help stay mentally in the game is to set up a spot behind the curtain to sit, or bring some stools to rest on. Don’t sit on them the entire day, as it may make you look uninviting, but do use them to take a quick mental break. You don’t want anything slowing you down, or causing you any stress, so little breaks now and again are important.

Step Six: Be Aware of What You’re Eating

After a long day at the trade show booth – and many hours without a real meal – you probably want to drown yourself in a juicy steak, and reward yourself with an alcoholic beverage. Go ahead, you deserve it, but be careful. Doing that every night of the trade show is not good, and definitely not healthy so don’t overdo it. Make sure you are getting some nutrients in your diet and instead of red meat every night, switch it up for some chicken or fish. Trust us – you’ll feel better!

Step Seven: Be Prepared for Anything

If this sounds pretty vague, that’s good – it was intentional. You can’t predict how you’re going to feel or what might come up, so you have to be ready. Bring aspirin, eye drops, Tums, Band-Aids, gum, mints, anything you think will help keep you and your staff functioning at 100% all of the time.

Step Eight: Don’t Forget to Network

Just because you aren’t a buyer, it doesn’t mean that you can’t network with other vendors. As you know, there will be speakers and events every day of the show, leaving you – and the rest of the vendors – with some down time. Use this as an opportunity to network with them and see what they have to say.

Step Nine: Follow Up

The overall goal of a trade show is, of course, to add leads to your sales funnel. You go to the show to help market yourself and your business, and try to convince attendees that they should buy from you or become a partner. The sad truth is that about 80% of trade show leads aren’t followed up. So, if you meet people that fit the bid, keep in contact with them. Letting them know that you remember them can go a long way.

It may also be a good idea to try scheduling a follow up meeting with someone once your direct conversation has ended. If you feel that they could be in your ‘Qualified Leads’ pile, ask them what day they would be available for a follow up conversation after the show and schedule it on your calendar. Otherwise, start reaching out to people you met as soon as you get back from the show. You should try reaching out to potential leads no more than two weeks after the end of the show.

We hope that these tips help make your trade show experience a little bit easier, and a little less overwhelming. For more trade show tips, or to learn more about Direct Capital, visit our website!