How to get the most from the summer show season

With scores of businesses heading to Ragley Hall this weekend for the Game Fair, the summer show season is well underway.

And with partners desperately looking to find some way of entertaining their holiday kids which doesn’t involved Fortnite, trade stalls can expect a bumper turnout.

As a small business, you’re investing both time and money into attending such shows, and with that comes the expectation of a decent return, preferably before the event has closed.

So, in this blog post, we’re taking a look at how to pull in the punters to ensure you get the most out the summer show season.

Before the Show

  • Book early

Very often, booking earlier can be cheaper if early bird deals are on offer. Also, exhibition stand locations are often allocated on a first-come-first-served basis with the best stands going to the companies that get in first. So, make sure you book as soon as you decide to go, because you don’t want to be stuck out in the margins where no on can be bothered to go!

  • List of the opportunities

Many people advise setting goals for what you want to achieve at a trade show, and this is useful task. Of course, these will differ depending on what you sell. If you’re selling relatively small, carry-away products then maximising sales will probably be your number one goal. However, if you’re selling large, occasional purchases, then lead development is a more realistic option.

But don’t confine yourself simply to your own business development. Trade shows, agriculture shows, game fairs, etc, are fantastic opportunities to check out what your competition is doing. How are they marketing themselves? Is their stall more or less popular than yours? What are they doing differently? How are they pulling in the punters? Rarely do you get the opportunity to see how your competitors operate so transparently, so use the opportunity to learn what you can.

Also, take time to look seek out inspiration from the event such as new products that would sit well among existing product lines. Look at what is selling and what is not, and how different businesses present and marketing themselves. As a small business, simply observing how other established businesses operate can inspire a load of great ideas, and there is no easier place to get those than at a fair or show.

So, don’t just think about your own business goals. Before you even get to the showground, make a list of all the potential opportunities to learn from competitors and companies in different sectors, so you can get out and discover them.

  • Exploit the pre-show publicity

Okay, so it might be a bit late for businesses attending this year’s Game Fair to do, but big events have big PR and marketing requirements and often there are opportunities for exhibitors to get in on the action. Search the event website as they will often list PR activities and get in touch with the PR team to discuss what opportunities there are.

  • Use social media to pull in the punters

Obviously, you should announce you’re going to the show on your social media channels, tagging in the organisers in the hope of a RT, comment or share. After all, their social media audience is likely to be both significant and your potential customers. But how about considering a more creative approach? Tweet a redeemable coupon which people can exchange for a free drink on your stall, both hot and cold so the offer suits any weather, or a money off voucher for one of your products. This way, you incentivise people to come to your stall, creating a captive audience to sell to.

At the Show

  • Create a great stand

We’ve written before about how to create a great stand in our blog Five Tips for Exhibition Stand Success, but to summarise make sure your branding is prevalent to build brand awareness, engage with visitors and be a good host (no eating in front of them, try as far as possible not to keeping them waiting long), and get your staffing right so that lunch and comfort breaks are covered. This way, you’re unlikely to miss a potential customers or leads.

  • Motivate your staff

Ultimately your goal is to sell more products, whether that is at the show or to generate leads to nurture at a later date. Therefore, incentivise your staff to do just that. A little bit of competition never did anyone any harm, and if gets your salespeople all fired up then so much the better.

  • Collect and record lead information

This goes without saying, but you’d be amazed at the amount of times that, during the buzz of a potential sale or because someone else is waiting to talk to you, you forget to collect a new lead’s information, or you put it somewhere you can’t find in the future. Have an easy and efficient system in place for recording lead information and keep a cool head when you’re busy to make sure you capture everything you need.

  • Update social media

In the quieter moments, get on social media and post live updates about the show and your experience. Post pics, videos, anything of interest and tag in various relevant people and use the event hashtags to make that content work harder.

  • Look out for media opportunities

These can be hard to spot, but often broadcast journalists from local or regional radio and television stations will wander around the show looking for people to interview or conducting vox pops to get visitor or business reaction. If you spy one and you have the nerve, go up and offer yourself for interview. You never know, you might just end up central to the media coverage of the event!

After the show

  • Follow up on your leads

Do this in a timely manner (i.e. very soon afterwards) and start with the hottest leads.

  • Implement what you’ve learned

Take a look back at the list of opportunities you made before going to the show. What did you learn from the experience and what can you use to do things differently in the future? Discuss those with the team and implement the ones you think will add value and further your success.

  • Look out for any post-show media opportunities

Very often, organisers of shows and fairs will put out press material about what a success the event has been. They may need exhibitors to quote in these. Find out if this is the case and offer yourself up for a quote or a case study. Even if you don’t get that straight away, they will know you are a good contact if you need it in the future.

So, follow these points and enjoy a fantastic trade show, whether that is this weekend or at any other events throughout the summer. Of course, if you want to keep that marketing momentum up year-round, then we can help. Get in touch to find out how!

About the Author:

Nick is an extremely keen shot and amateur cook, often in that order but only if he manages to hit something. He is a regular game shot in and around his native county of Yorkshire and holds the DSC1 qualification. He is also a big fan of tweed, red wine, scotch and tea!

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