Presenting at trade shows is a lot of work. You have to secure your booth, make displays, hire or allocate people to work as presenters for your company, and make sure all your planning and preparations come together on time. It almost seems like too much work for just a few days of exposure and networking. After all, doesn’t everyone do all of their marketing and networking online these days? The answer is yes and no. While social media and online marketing are both prevalent and important to getting your brand into the public eye, face-to-face networking is still incredibly important, especially with inside-industry networking.
Conferences and trade shows provide you and your company with three things that you really cannot get anywhere else, and unless you present and go to trade show exhibits, you won’t get them any other way. First of all, you’ll get exposure within your industry. Others in the know in your field will get to know your name and your product or service. Second, and this builds on the first, you’ll get to network with people and companies who provide complementary services and products to your own. There’s strength in numbers, and if your products and/or services work well together, you’ll both end up advertising for yourselves and each other, reaching a wider audience and bringing in more customers. Finally, you’ll get the best chance you’ll ever have to spy on your competition. You want to know what they’re doing so that you can be a step ahead of them as often as possible.
One of the most important things for a start up business is name and brand recognition. If you’re new to the business, you need to make your presence known at trade shows so that people within your industry will start to become familiar with you and your product or service. If you are an established company, it’s still very important for you to do some trade show exhibits, as it will show that you are still a presence and a force to be reckoned with in the business. Trade shows are as much about strategy as they are about sales numbers on a particular week or weekend.
When you’re at trade shows, it’s important for you or one of your team to scout out the floor, not just for competition, but for allies as well. Bring enough people with you that one or more of you can be away from the booth scouting, while you leave one or two people behind at your exhibit to represent your product or service. While you’re checking out others’ trade show exhibits, consider who can help you and how. As a silly but apt example, if you make a garlic peeler, and you see the people selling the garlic, you need to get over there and talk to them. Making friends in the industry helps to build your reputation and brand recognition.
Check out the Competition’s Trade Show Exhibits
Finally, going to trade shows allows you to spy on the competition. Granted, they’ll be spying on you at the same time, but if you don’t show up, you won’t have any idea what they’re coming out with this year, and what you need to respond to. Get to know who them and what they’re about, what they’re selling and how their product or service compares to yours. With this information, you’ll be prepared to compete.
So you see how important trade show exhibits can be to your company. Building and maintaining your name and presence, networking with allies, and checking out the competition will all help keep you afloat just as much as maintaining your Facebook page and Twitter account.