Trade Shows: Showing Up is Not Half the Battle

Trade Shows

Last month Telaeris attended the National Electric Contractors Association’s 2011 Conference in San Diego. Telaeris has exhibited in a number of trade shows in the past, but this was my first.  As the designated lead for the show, I was responsible for planning, preparing, and exhibiting our products on the trade show floor.  This experience opened my eyes to how beneficial attending trade shows can be for a company. Our show ran smoothly and we walked away with some great leads. For anyone who is planning to exhibit at a trade show in the future, these tips are for you!

1)      A flashy display means nothing if your team is lackluster. Save the money you were going to spend on a great looking display, and maybe consider using it to train your sales staff. A modest and clean display is all you will need if your team is engaging, friendly, and interactive.  We found that some of the best leads generated were because our sales team was not afraid to step out into the aisle to engage the customer.

2)      Uhh… What do you guys do? If anyone walks up to your booth, looks at everything for 5 seconds, then turns to you and asks “What do you guys do?” then you have failed. And more likely than not, if they can’t tell what you are selling while they are walking past your booth, they won’t even slow down.  Your signage should be clear and simple. If your company name does not clearly state what you do, find a slogan or phrase that does and make that the focal point of your display. With a name like Telaeris, we chose to use the slogan “Track Your Stuff!” This described our asset tracking products which we knew would be of interest to everyone at the show.

3)      Keep your focus on the sale. While publicity and branding are important, don’t forget the main reason you are at the trade show. Sell your stuff. If you aren’t selling an off-the-shelf product then gather as many sales leads as you can. You do not want to leave a trade show without having a plan for the next step of the sale – the follow-up.  And back at the office, take the leads you gathered at the show, follow-up with them, and keep them in your system.

4)      Get instant feedback on your product. Some of the most valuable feedback we received at the show was not the praise, but the criticism. If there was something our software was lacking or something that the prospect didn’t like we knew it right away. They just told us. Making notes about this feedback provided us with information we could pass along to our development group to make our products even better.  In our case, a number of people had a requirement for tracking inspections of their assets.  We listened and are rolling out this feature into XPressTools (formerly known as TagTrakker) next week.

5)      Meet people. This might sound obvious, but I’m not just referring to the people attending the trade shows. Spend time networking with other exhibitors and taking a look at the other booths. Get ideas for what to do at your next show by noting what you do and don’t like about other booths. Trade shows are also great ways to meet potential business partners and find teaming opportunities. Chances are, you are targeting the same market if you are both at the same trade show. Find companies that complement yours and get to know them.  You might even surprise yourself and find that your competitors and you have ways to win more business by working together. In our case, we found a signage company whose customers needed to track their assets using RFID. This provided us with a win/win solution – they were able to better serve their clients and we received access to a larger customer base.

By Liz Womack, Telaeris Marketing Analyst

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