While effective marketing is essential for any business, building awareness and establishing a presence in the market is a particular priority for startups. It’s true that the modern world of business is heavily focused on digital marketing with the always increasing influence of SEO and social media leading the way, but that does not mean that the more traditional strategies don’t have their place. Face to face communication with your target customers can be invaluable, and trade shows and exhibitions provide the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Some startups shy away from trade shows because of the costs involved, but with the right approach, these costs pale into insignificance when compared to the potential benefits. Attending trade shows are essential to a startup’s marketing strategy not only in building awareness with your target audiences but also in building industry contacts and a wider network.
Here are 3 top tips for startups which are considering exhibiting at a trade show.
1. Location, location, location
Your position at the trade show will be one of the most important considerations as it will directly impact your exposure. Just as you would take time to consider the location of a brick and mortar store or the layout of your e-commerce website, your position at the trade show should be a well-thought-out decision.
Booking early is the best way to give yourself as much choice as possible over your location, and the trade show will have a floor plan with a pricing structure for you to consider. The stands along main walkways or central areas which are usually more crowded with traffic are the most sought after and therefore the most expensive. However, a corner location could be more likely to stand out, and if you can secure a spot by a famous brand (ideally not a direct competitor), you may benefit from their higher number of visitors.
2. Make your display stand out
It’s not easy to stand out at a trade show when there are hundreds of businesses are using the same marketing displays. You should ensure you have the exhibition essentials such as branded pop up banners and literature or merchandise to hand out to interested visitors, but you also need to think a little more creatively. Consider the lighting you use as back-lit display stands which use LED lighting can really stand out. Think of ways to make your stand interactive, which could include using iPads with your product range. Make your stand as engaging as you would with a website such as a game or physical challenge. Perhaps a member of the team could dress in a memorable outfit.
3. Choose your team carefully
The people you choose to run the stand on the day should be selected carefully. While it’s important that they have knowledge of your service or product, but this in itself is not enough. Trade stand staff should be confident and have excellent communication skills so that they are comfortable approaching visitors and holding conversations. Hard selling techniques are rarely effective in these situations as most attendees are there to research options before they commit, so think of the stand as a lead generation exercise. Staff should try to establish rapport and to value booth visitors so that they leave feeling a personal connection to your brand.