- Start Early: Tradeshow prep starts early. Target your attendees and exhibitors. About a month before a show, the CIS family begins reaching out to our show listees to schedule meetings and inviting companies to visit our booths.
- Plan ahead: For a few extra bucks you can pre-register and get a jump on the crowds. Because the last thing I want to do after a 19 hour flight is to stand in ANOTHER line.
- Map it out: Print at least one copy of the exhibit floor for each day that you’ll be there. Highlight the booths that are a must see and hit them the first day. Even if you just catch their faces, you can seek them out at other sponsored events and chat them up.
- Plan B: It’s going to happen. Someone is going to forget a laptop charger, the screwdriver to assemble the display will magically disappear or some mysterious food particle will manifest itself on your shirt. Get online and find the closest Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Best Buy to your hotel/conference area. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Networking: The whole reason for a tradeshow is to meet perspective clients. Get out there, put on your best face and remember to be polite. We’re all cranky and tired and our feet hurt. Smile anyway. “You catch more bees with honey” as my southern mom often quoted.
- Looking the part: Remember, to your prospective customer, you are the face of your company. Not only will you be selling your product face-to-face, you’ll be selling yourself. Business casual is acceptable in this day and age, as are comfortable shoes since you will be spending approximately eight hours on your feet. Gentleman, a week before, schedule a haircut. Ladies, my mom told me you can tell a lot about a lady by looking at her hands, so get to the salon for some fresh polish.
- Don’t Procrastinate: Don’t let that pile of business cards sit on your desk. Studies show that most trade show leads are never re-contacted or activated. Hopefully you were proactive and wrote a little something about each contact on the card and have a talking point to reference. Don’t let these valuable leads go to waste.
It’s the hustle and bustle of the airport, the inevitable set up and tear down of your new 12 x 12 square foot home …and did I mention the technology roadblocks that are sure to come your way? Ah, yes, tradeshow season, the “glamorous” side of your job has finally arrived. Things hardly (if ever) go exactly as planned, so I’ve compiled a list of a few action items to help you prepare for the big day.