Stop Just Trading Business Cards: Develop Real Tradeshow Connections

ITA Group
ITA Group

People at an event interacting

Tradeshows present the unique opportunity to build face-to-face connections, drawing from a targeted audience of decision makers and professionals within your industry. When you are exhibiting at a tradeshow, here are seven things you can do to yield the connections you want.

Plan Early

Branding is an important part of the tradeshow planning process. A company’s employer brand communicates what sets you apart from other companies competing for the same talent. It is the personality and essence of your organization. Breathing life into your brand’s identity is vital to your tradeshow success.

Exhibiting at the right show is crucial for connecting with your target audience. If your company has a wide range of products and services it is important to cater your strategy to suit the attendees’ specific needs and interests.

Set Goals

Setting concrete goals prior to planning for a tradeshow ensures that the results will be easy to measure. Goals should be closely tied to larger business objectives, like increasing sales or creating buzz around a new product. Once there is a clear goal, set quantifiable benchmarks that will help you define success and improve your strategy during future shows.

Let People Know You’re Going

Ninety-nine percent of exhibitors find unique value delivered by B2B tradeshow, which are not provided by other marketing channels.

Social media can help you generate leads and traffic to your exhibition booth, while slashing costs by up to 80%, while email marketing yields an average 4,300% ROI

Take a thorough look at your prospect’s browsing and social media habits. See where they stay and focus your efforts on establishing presence on that channel. Most importantly, make your pre-show marketing push is about them—their problems, challenges and the solutions you offer. It’s the best way to catch their attention.

Related: 4 Contemporary Tradeshow Trends That Offer Big Marketing Value

Be Personable

Listen to the people you are talking to. Ask them questions about their business, and themselves. Find common interests. Don’t come on too strong or you will scare them away.

The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is $142; at a prospect’s office is $259. If you are going to invest the time and energy to attend, send your relationship builders. The tradeshow floor, a cocktail reception or after you speak is not where you will close a deal. At the very most you should work towards scheduling a follow up meeting for as soon as possible while the tradeshow buzz is still in the air. Regardless of how exciting the conversations may be and how deep the level of interest is during the event, this will dwindle substantially the following week when everyone is back to “real life.”

Keep a Record of Your Connections

Be sure to listen to current customers as well as prospects, to understand how customer’s needs can be met at every step of the buyer’s journey.

Tradeshows present the unique opportunity to receive real-time feedback on your products and services. Understanding how customers interact with your brand provides valuable insight that will help your company improve and customized marketing efforts.

Be Social

Every business relies on a community of other businesses to some capacity, and tradeshows bring related companies under one roof. If you take the opportunity to meet other industry professionals, then you will likely discover ways that your companies can benefit each other. Meeting other vendors provides the opportunity to build lasting business partnerships, long after the show is over.

Tradeshows are the ultimate networking opportunity, so definitely don’t miss out on the opportunity to walk around and meet your neighbors. Learning more about other companies and their products will help you understand where your company fits in the big picture.

Follow Up

When you get back to the office, follow up promptly with all your leads to keep the conversation going and the potential deal warm. Leads left unattended will quickly grow cold in today’s fast paced environment and they’ll either forget you or get scooped by the competition who may be a little faster on their feet. Have your follow-up email drafted before you even leave for the tradeshow. That way you just need to do edits to customize for each lead when you get back and you’re ready to rock.

It’s About Connecting In Person

Despite the transition to digital means of communication, high attendance at tradeshows means businesses continue to place a high value on face-to-face communication. The ultimate goal of your tradeshow experience depends on your organization, but it should keep its focus to establish and build relationships—not selling or playing a business card trading game. If you take the time to cultivate these relationships, these people will remember you if they are in need the goods and services your company offers.