Trade Show Attendance Tips for Maximizing Your Time and Money

Approximately one of every two attendees is planning to buy one or more products exhibited as a result of attending trade shows.[1] But for many small business owners, trade show attendance is still a major decision. First, there’s all the expenses related to attending the show. Admission fees, exhibitor’s fees, travel expenses and of course, what may be the biggest expense; time away from the business. So when the decision is made to attend a conference or expo, it is imperative to maximize time, budget and opportunity. Here is a list of trade show attendance tips that may help.

Trade Show Research & Planning

The decision to attend a convention or trade show should be part of your ongoing business plans. Your research and planning should be done a year advance. This allows time to develop a budget, and research other attendees to see if the show makes sense for your businesses’ growth.

Define Your Trade Show Mission

Why are you attending the show? Is to introduce a new product or service? Is it to get more customers? Is it to reinforce existing relationships? Is it to learn about innovations? Your mission must be targeted and specific, especially if only one person is attending the show.

Trade Show Deadlines

Set a calendar of key deadlines. Most expos have a calendar of deadline dates. Keep track of important deadlines, such as early registration. Other important dates are; Early booking of a hotel to get a reduced price, exhibitor applications, workshop and seminar registration. Knowing these dates can help you save money and the agony of last minutes scrambling to find a place to stay.

Develop an Attendee List

Develop a list of show attendees that you need to meet. Don’t wait until the official list from the event is available. Research what companies has attended the conference in the past. Make a call to see if they are attending the conference again.

Make Appointments in Advance

This may be the most important item on this list. It is essential to making the most of your time at the trade show. Make your appointments with decision makers. See if the hotel is nearby or if the convention center has meeting rooms. Book a room to allow for a meeting with no distractions. This is particularly important if you have a presentation.

Trade Show Attendance Tips include convention followup
One of the more important trade show attendance tips is to follow up with all contacts within two weeks of the conference.

Make Appointments with Existing Customers

One of the most important trade show attendance tips is to spend quality time with your customers.  It will not only reinforce relationships, it will mean less time for your competitors to meet them as well! It is very tempting to spend most of your time going after new customers at a very target-rich environment like a conference. Even if there are hundreds of new potential customers at the trade show, there is still a good chance that most of your new business will come from existing customers.

Two is Better Than One

If you have the luxury and budget to have more than one person attend the show, split up when possible. More appointments can be made and your company can be exposed to new potential customers. This may allow you to spend more quality time with existing clients.

Know the Convention Center Layout

Plan for logistic efficiency. In order to maximize your time, download the map from the conference website and mark the key exhibitor’s locations. If the trade show has an exhibitor app for a smart phone, download it. The size of conventions can be daunting. Advanced planning is necessary in order to spend more time meeting the right people and less time walking around.

Research Seminars and Workshops

Seminars and workshops can be educational and enlightening. Do not decided to attend based on the seminar’s title alone. Research the presenter’s background and qualifications. Determine if the subject matter and the level of expertise is right for you. It may mean the difference between game-changing, enlightenment or a complete waste of time.

Follow Up After the Trade Show

Last, but not the least of our trade show attendance tips is to promptly follow up with all your contacts. If possible, follow up with all contacts within two weeks of the conference. It goes without saying, but if you don’t follow up and stay in touch with your new network, your hard work and money may have been wasted.

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