There are numerous reasons why you might want to exhibit. Among them are the following:
- Increase sales and profits. This is probably obvious and will be your real intention for exhibiting. You can find new
customers and increase your business overall by letting more people know who you are and what you can rovide.
- Meet and entertain customers. If you have customers across the country or internationally, let them know you’ll be there and send them free tickets for admission. Take as many of the important ones out to dinner as you have time for, or have a hospitality suite. (Do it up first-class.) This may be your one chance every year to let your customers know that you appreciate their business.
- Announce new products and services. The right prospects should be there to see what’s new and how it will
work for them. If you want to create a little suspense, have a countdown or a clock going backward to the official announcement time. A corporate officer should make the presentation at a predetermined and publicized time. Alert the media, and you may even get coverage.
- Get sales leads. You should qualify people you meet in your booth with a few brief questions and then code them A, B, or C for future follow up. I’ve attended shows where I’ve felt as if a detective was interrogating me before they gave me any information, so don’t overdo it. Make visitors feel welcome with a smile and give them your full attention. Your A leads should be the first ones you call back and then B and C.
- Pick up new distributors. Are you looking for new or more people to handle your products on a regional basis? Many of them attend tradeshows to add on more product lines. Give special attention to the ones who really want to help you promote your company and products. Meet with them after the show and qualify them.
- Have show specials. Do you have new equipment or machinery that’s running way under capacity? This is the time
to pick up orders at special show prices to fill in these slow times. These customers may become regular customers later— at regular prices.
- Build a mailing list. You’ll want to accumulate as many prospects as possible for your future direct mail. Ask people to fill out a form for a drawing or simply drop their business card in a bowl. These are people who can buy your products and services that you can’t find elsewhere. Don’t overlook the possibility of collecting as many names as you can, and encourage all your visitors to participate.
- Get media publicity. Reporters from TV, radio, news – papers, trade journals, and magazines will be there covering the show. What can you do to stand out and get attention even if you have a small booth? A big giveaway or drawing or perhaps an unusual announcement may pique the media’s interest.
- Check out your competitors. If your competitors aren’t there, you’re lucky—but they probably are. Stop at their booths and introduce yourself; look around and compliment their exhibit. Stroll by or near their booth occasionally to see what type of traffic they’re getting. They will be checking you out too, so don’t be bashful.
- Hire sales reps. You will obviously meet sales reps from other companies and from your competitors. If you talk to one or more who stands out, you can discreetly give them your business card and let them know you’d like to talk if they are ever looking to change companies. This is not unethical—it’s being done every day, everywhere, and probably with your own people.
- Conduct seminars and meetings. If you want to establish yourself as an expert, give a free seminar or hold a roundtable discussion. You’ll soon be recognized as a leader in your field or industry. Invite everyone you can and send a press release to the media prior to the event. Also have it put in the show program with your photo.