Preparing Before, During and After for Tradeshows

Image courtesy of HealthGauge's photostream.

Image courtesy of HealthGauge’s photostream.

When preparing to go to a tradeshow – either as an attendee or as an exhibitor – most people focus on what will go on at the event itself. Attendees may think about the booths they want to visit, and exhibitors may focus on the giveaways they want to have on-hand. But it’s important for both attendees and exhibitors to consider everything that should happen not only at the show, but before and after it happens, as well.

With that in mind, here are tips for both attendees and exhibitors to consider when planning for their next tradeshow trips:

Attendees: Review the list of those exhibiting at the tradeshow (this will most likely be online, or given in a tradeshow packet sent to you). Then, determine your ‘plan of attack.’ Figure out who you need to see, as well as why you need to see them. Ask yourself, What services am I looking for to help my business? How will this help me improve? What value is there in working with them?

Exhibitors: If attendees are trying to determine who they must see at the tradeshow, you need to give them a reason to mark you down as a booth to visit! Before anyone even steps inside the tradeshow room, send out a direct mail piece to attendees. Depending on how much you are willing to invest, this could be a postcard, or a package that includes a promotional item. Make sure both the messaging and promo piece strongly reveal what you can do to meet attendees’ business needs. The promotional item may even be something that encourages people to stop by the booth for the ‘missing piece,’ with the two items together making the item usable.

Attendees: Implement your plan of attack and visit the booths that intrigue you the most! Pick up as many samples and giveaways to take back to your business and see what works best for you. Also, don’t ignore the literature available; although it may be a lot to read right away, it will be beneficial later on to review and learn more about the exhibitors.

Exhibitors: Make your booth welcoming for attendees to visit. Give away items that fit well with your brand, but also make the tradeshow experience a positive one for attendees. For example, give out bags for attendees to hold all of their samples in, or provide snacks and water bottles so everyone stays well-fed and well-hydrated on the tradeshow floor. Additionally, collect business cards from attendees so you have their information on-file for later.

Attendees: When you go home, the tradeshow work has really just begun. This is the time where you can really digest everything shared and handed to you. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with exhibitors to learn more information, or to schedule a one-on-one meeting.

Exhibitors: Your work has just started after a tradeshow as well! Use the contact information you gathered at the event to send out a post-tradeshow greeting. This can be a letter, or even an email. Let attendees know you were happy to meet them, and look forward to speaking with them further about how you can help them achieve their business goals. Send this communication out within a couple of weeks of the event, so you stay fresh in attendees’ memories.

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