Growing Your Business: Preparing for Trade Shows series

grow your own business preparing for trade shows

Hello! It’s Avis from Avie Designs again with another post in my series on Preparing for Trade Shows.

Today, we’re going to talk about driving traffic to your booth. Designing a great product and executing a beautiful booth gets you nowhere if no one stops by to look at it. Now there is a ton of foot traffic at a trade show,  That’s one of the main advantages of exhibiting at a large trade show, there are thousands of potential clients in the building. You just have to figure out how to get them to meander by your booth, so you can pull them in. I read somewhere that a company rented a popcorn machine and made fresh, very fragrant popcorn in their booth that you could smell for aisles. That’s a clever idea to get lots of visitors, but you are really looking to target the people that come by your booth and that takes a lot of work before the show.

First of all, who do you want to stop by? You could start by asking the trade show themselves for a list of probable attendees. This will probably cost money but it’s very helpful information. The National Stationery Show will even send out postcards to that list for you, for a fee, of course. This is always a good option but you have to realize that it’s not targeting, it’s more of a fish net approach. I know at The National Stationery Show, there are lots of different types of stationery companies and stationery retailers. They are not all a good fit for what I am selling and it can be inefficient and a waste of money for me to send them information about me and my company.

So your goal is to obtain the most targeted list of potential clients you can. There are many ways to do this, one of them is plain, old fashioned research. But once you get your list together, you are have to figure out how to contact them. You have a lot of options here and if you have the money, time and resources, the more you employ the better.

1. Email: Obviously this is the cheapest way to send out information about yourself. It is completely free if you just send out personalized emails from you. You can also sign up for a service like Constant Contact which allows you to easily keep up with your email lists, send emails with images & links and “blast” your targeted audience quickly. There is a downside to this method as we all get email blasts and they’re not always opened by the receiver.

2. Snail Mail: Depending on how approach it, this can be a very expensive option or a moderately expensive option. Postcards are a popular way to get your information out at a reasonable price. You can have  them printed by VistaPrint, they allow you to upload your own artwork and are very cheap. Mailing a postcard is also cheaper than mailing anything else. Just make sure your product looks bright, inviting and eye-catching so that your postcard doesn’t end up in the trash. (I am including my last postcard that, while well designed, was not that inviting.) Also make sure you have all the pertinent information they will need to contact you. You can go one step further and send out a “care package” full of information and product samples or a catalog. This is much more expensive but if you feel you have a very targeted list, this can really work for you.

3. Advertising: This is potentially the most expensive, depending on where you advertise. Again, just make sure that you advertise where your targeted audience will be. This year, I’m taking out an ad in Stationery Trends Magazine which is the industry magazine read by retailers and fellow stationery companies. You can see my ad below. I think it has a little more pizazz than last year’s postcard.

4. PR: Lastly, don’t forget to reach out to the press. Magazines, bloggers and TV will most likely be at the trade show so reach out to them in order to increase your chances of coverage at the show. And make sure your website, blog, twitter & Facebook all have the information about you at the show too so anyone can get it easily.

Next time (May 3rd) we get to the fun stuff “Designing & Executing Your Booth”

– Avis Wampler, the creative force  behind Avie Designs, writes the column Growing Your Business: Preparing for Trade Shows series. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.