You’ve tried everything the Internet has told you to try to build your business. You’ve set up a virtual workspace, you’ve mastered social media and content marketing built your brand. You’ve bought and sold advertising spase. But still the numbers aren’t where you want them to be. Why? Because you need to build your business offline as well as online. One of the best ways to do this is by attending trade shows and conventions in both your actual niche and in those that are complementary. This will help you differentiate your business in a sea of vendors.
Conferences, trade shows and conventions are great both for guests and for vendors. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from the leaders in your industry, you’ll have a receptive audience for your own pitches and products, and you’ll have the chance to network with buyers and other vendors. It can, however, take a while to figure out how to turn these events into advantageous business opportunities. The first time you run a booth in a vendor hall, you’ll most likely feel like you’re in the business equivalent to a carnival’s midway.
Most new vendors make the mistake of trying to make their booths and tables as lavish and as loud (both literally and figuratively speaking) as possible. Let us be the first to tell you: this will do more to drive people away than to draw them in. To really make the most of your presence at an industry event, follow these tips.
Buy App Space
More and more event organizers are working with companies like DoubleDutch to build event apps.The goal of these apps is to make their conventions and conferences easier for attendees to navigate. Buy advertising space here. But don’t just buy a static ad. Use the space to drive attendees to your booth. The best way to do this is to offer a freebie or promotional discount for your products (or signing up for your services). You can also use this ad to build your lead generation lists. Instead of promotional pricing, offer a small freebie to people who sign up for your email or snail mail list.
If the event’s app will let you include links to your own sites and Web-based forms, you’ll see a bigger spike in lead generation because even people who can’t find time to visit your booth can take advantage of your promotional offer.
Stand Up and Engage
If you spend the entire event slumped in a chair at your booth playing games on your phone, very few people will stop to check out what you are offering. Instead, stand up at least half the time and try to look engaged all the time. Say hello to the people who make eye contact with you, hand out fliers, business cards and coupons to people passing by. Be friendly even to those who are simply curious and browsing. You never know when they will come back.
If you are someone who doesn’t feel comfortable doing this, that’s okay. Not everybody is built for extroversion at this level. Still, bring someone with you who is good at engaging crowds and strangers to do the heavy social lifting for you.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words
You can attract a lot of attention at your booth if you include video somehow in your display. Be careful and plan wisely here. Many event spaces have limited access to power. Even if you pay to have power provided booth-side, the Wi-Fi in crowded spaces is notoriously unreliable. Instead of relying on it to stream your videos, burn them to discs or USBs and use those for your video source.
Be sure to mute your video screen’s built-in speakers. Remember: visuals are intriguing. Blaring sound is off-putting. Set up headphones for people who want to hear the audio that accompanies the video (make sure you sterilize them after each use). The lack of sound will pique curiosity and bring in more curious attendees than blasting your message at top volume.
These are just a few of the techniques that you can use to ensure your success at your next vending space. There are many others, of course, but these should give you a solid head start on the other newbies!