As an organization, you probably participate in trade shows to meet buyers and show off what you offer. It’s the perfect time to connect face-to-face to talk about products and solutions. You will also find that trade shows are a competitive channel to attract new leads. Thus, you’ll need to be innovative and strategic about the time you have on the trade show floor.

To enable your success, consider these seven tips.

Start Planning Early

To reduce costs and ensure you have the logistics taken care of, it’s good to plan ahead. You’ll want to start planning at least six months before the event. This allows you to secure a space that will have good traffic. It also allows for you to book travel and accommodations early to save costs.

Besides logistics, you need to create a pre-show campaign. Start engaging attendees long before you actually get to the show. This would include email marketing and social media marketing.

You could also develop some content about what attendees can expect to see at the show from your company. This type of approach piques interest and could ensure those who see your messaging stop by your booth.

Prep Your Team

The representatives that will be attending the show need pre-show prep. Meeting several times before the event should help everyone be on the same page. This allows for more consistent messaging, even when different employees speak with prospects.

Let the team know what activities will be taking place in your booth like contests or product demonstrations.

Schedule Pre-Show Meetings

Before the show kicks off formally, most attendees are already in town. This represents an opportunity to book meetings with some prospects before things get too busy. As these meetings get booked, be sure to share them in a calendar that your team has access to prevent double booking.

Create Buzz on Social Media

Social media is an ideal channel to spread the word about what will be going on at your booth during the show. Most events have a hashtag. Use that in every post you share. Start at least two weeks before the event with consistent posting about the show and what visitors can expect in your booth.

Continue to engage on social media at the event by taking photos and videos of what’s going on at the show and in your booth. You could also choose to go live on a platform for a real-time connection with attendees.

Make It Easy to Share Information

More than anything at a trade show, you want attendees to give you their information, especially an email address. With an email, you have a channel to communicate through and nurture your relationship with the prospect.

But you need to make it easy for your visitors. Touchscreen tablets on-site are one quick way for a user to tap in their name and email. Plus, it lets you download the information quickly to your customer relationship management platform.

If you just take business cards, be sure to send a nice personalized follow-up after the show.

Another tip in helping you get the email is to offer an incentive like a giveaway and/or a piece of content about what you do and how you do it. Your booth itself could tease that content, getting attendees interested in the story.

Find Opportunities for Thought Leadership

Almost any conference offers opportunities to submit a presentation. These types of presentations are educational in nature and will set you apart as a thought leader. When deciding what to submit, focus on data points, trends, and challenges of the industry. Then use subject matter expertise to develop a thoughtful presentation.

Once you are accepted and, on the agenda, heavily promote your session via email and social media. Stay at the angle of thought leadership and don’t promote your brand but rather the message.

Stay Engaged

There will be ebbs and flows in traffic, even with large trade shows while educational session are going on, so it’s okay to slip away now and then to check email or take a call. But for the majority of the time the exhibit floor is open, your booth needs to be staffed with people ready to chat.

One of the easiest ways to get people to stop and chat is to make eye contact. This is a form of body language that says let’s talk. Once someone stops, get to the point after introductions. They may not have too much time to spare so figure out their biggest challenges and demonstrate how your products or services are the solution.

If you can’t describe what you do and how you do it within a few minutes, it’s unlikely the person will stay much longer. Staying engaged means listening to the answers the attendee gives and being able to relate what you do with what they need.

These seven tips should help you maximize your time at your next show and come away with more high-quality leads.

Have more questions about preparing for trade shows? Email me at molly@landscapehub.com. LandscapeHub will be at the following upcoming shows: Independent Garden Center show, August 14-16 and the FarWest Show, August 22-24. Come see us!