By: Steve Troup
There are many ways to promote your business at trade shows or community events. Some of these can be excellent ways to get in front of many people who don’t know about your business. They may not have a current need, but when they do you will have an advantage over your competitors, as they have met you and had a nice conversation.
Here are some things to consider when participating in these events
These events will add cost to your operations. The important point is to determine if the cost is worth the exposure. How many people will be there? What does the booth rental cost? Will you have travel and hotel expenses? What other costs hide in these events-sometime you rent the booth space but then also have to rent electricity and many other hidden fees? Will you need to purchase additional samples for this event? The cost of setting up a display can get out of control very fast.
On other occasions, you might be asked to donate a door prize at a charity event. This can be a great opportunity as you don’t have all the costs discussed above. However, manage this so you get something from the charity and are not just giving them a door prize. Here you will need to negotiate with them on what you are donating and how they are going to announce and present that. Will your firm be recognized on signage or in the program at the event? Make sure they give you the name of the winner the next day, so you can call them and discuss what they won. This is where you might be able to build a nice add-on sale to what they won.
More than likely they will be held in the evening or maybe over a weekend. How does this impact your family life and other responsibilities? If they are not evenings or weekend then how are you going to operate your business (assuming you have a storefront), and yet be at the event. You can’t be two places at once, so how do you cover this dilemma? Maybe you have a second person trained to cover that storefront or the event and pay them for that time. They would not be a permanent employee but they would know your business and how you want presentations made to clients. Think of them as your “on call assistant” that you utilize only when things like this come up. You might be surprised how many people would be happy to have this opportunity. Plus you don’t have to retrain a new person each time this comes up.
Planning and Follow-Up
It is easy to get so wrapped up in going to the event that it is easy to overlook letting everyone know you are going to be there. You want them to visit with you, so make sure your clients know you are there. With blast emails you can easily let your clients know to stop by and say hello. You should have something to discuss with them and be prepared with your “elevator speech” of what you do. You don’t want to spend a lot of time with people, as the more time you spend talking to one potential client, 5 or 6 more potential clients walk past.
How are you going to follow up on the leads from the event? Determine this before the event and have materials prepared. When you return from the event, you are trying to catch up on the home front and also at work. So follow up on the leads gets “put off”. Suddenly you realize that 3 weeks have gone by and you have done nothing with the leads and maybe it is too late. Be ready to hit the ground running the minute you get home. If this happens, then in effect you wasted a lot of money going to that show. You might get some return but not what you potentially could.