TRADE SHOWS: Yes, No or Maybe?

Trade Shows

office-227169_1280Trade shows are a great way to create brand awareness. In my experience you need to understand that trade shows are not likely to produce immediate sales. Sure, you may sell a few pairs of socks, bath bombs or whatever your product is. If you are a service, you definitely are unlikely to produce sales at the trade show itself.

What you can expect is that you have the opportunity to start a dialogue with people. But, you have to get their attention first. Just setting up your table and banners won’t do it. You are just one voice in a sea of many.

What are some things you can do to draw people to your table or booth?

  • Set up an interactive activity like golf putting or a guessing game.
  • Have a draw where people can win something.
    • Make sure you are aware of any lottery laws in your area. For example, in Ontario you must have a license for a lottery. If there is a skill testing question involved, it’s no longer a game of chance. (If you are unsure about local laws, use your #LegalSavingsPlan to find out!)
  • Get out from behind your table and start a conversation.
  • Go and talk to the other vendors!

Give Something Away!

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People are always looking for something for nothing. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. I won’t believe you because I’m as normal as the next person and I’m always looking. What can you give away?

  • Free consultation
  • Pens, notepads, etc. What I call swag.

My personal favourite is a draw. Just remember to watch out for rules around lottery etc. That’s why you will often see the need for a “skill testing question”. Also make sure to use appropriate disclosure about how you will use and protect information. When it comes to draws, I’m like a moth to a flame. This is a great way of gathering names to call about my business.

Up Front Contract

contractI have written about this before. (Click here to read my blog about the Up Front Contract.)

When collecting names and contact information, be up front about the fact you will follow up and how you will use the information.

As an example, I was sponsoring a hole in a golf tournament where I had a table with a draw. One of the participants said “You’re not going to be calling me are you?”. My answer was “Of course! But, when I call, you can tell me to get lost. Just be kind, I’m sensitive!” which resulted in a laugh and him completing a ballot. Some passed and that’s OK. It’s all about sorting. If there’s a ballot, there’s an opportunity for a sale. Approaches like booths are all about gathering names to set up opportunities to share your story. Don’t even try to sell there. Get the meeting, that’s the sale for that day.

Other Arrows In Your Quiver

  • website toolsCold calls. (Not for me but hey, I know some who love it!)
  • Door knocking. (Right up there with cold calls!)
  • Webinars
  • Advertising
  • Only limited by your imagination.

First, trade shows may or may not be for you. If they are, don’t let trade shows be the only thing you do. You know the old saying, “Variety is the spice of life!”. Now, get out there and make some new friends.

Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for open minds, new networks and new friends. What are you thankful for today?