Many businesses benefit greatly from marketing at trade shows or being sponsors. Special events, conferences and community fairs are a great way to get your business literally in front of people’s faces.
Depending on the size of the event, as a business owners you may have a great deal of work ahead of you. But before you dive into all the details, I’m proposing that you step back and think about the event you’re about to invest in.
Before signing up, ask yourself:
- what are your goals for being at that event, and having that booth space?
Why ARE you signing up as an exhibitor? Be clear about why you’re there. Is it to make new connections? To sell your products? Whatever your reasons, make sure that’s what you do-and make sure your assistant(s) do the same!
- have you thought about what your visual display will look like-or will you just wait until the last minute?
Don’t leave your booth visuals until a week before the event. Yes, you can get banners done quickly. But when you rush, mistakes can be made. Prepare well in advance.
- if you bring staff or an assistant-will you train them on what to say, how to interact with visitors?
The person/people you bring with you to man the booth will be representing your business. Make sure to train them . YOU know your business inside and out; chances are, the other person doesn’t. Or they simply don’t know what you want to tell people. What will their role be? To greet visitors? To share your printed info? To encourage visitors to sign up for a consultation? Make sure you let them know what you expect-it’s your booth after all.
Preparation: your visual display
Now I’m going to focus on #2 for a while. Because naturally, I think that your visual display is the most important thing at an event. It is the first thing people will see. It will make a first impression. It is how visitors will recognize your booth. It’s as easy as “I’m in the west corner-the big orange canopy with the balloons!”
When it comes to these events, preparation boils down to 2 things: time and money. That’s really all there is.
Money-or your marketing budget-will dictate the size of booth you’ll receive. And the type of event you choose. If you really, really feel your business needs to be at a big event like the Ottawa Home Show, for example, be prepared for a lot of expenses. Here’s a few:
- registration fee
- hotels and meals if you’re coming from out of town
- production of a booth if you haven’t already got one
- promotional materials like flyers, postcards, business cards
- samples to give away (ie. the item you sell, for example, chips, ice cream, books, etc.)
- promotional items to give away (items bearing your logo simply to promote your business)
- staff or extra people to help depending on what you’re bringing (they’re not going out of the goodness of their hearts, unless they’re married to you)
Those are the main ones. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.
If this is your first big event and you haven’t got a booth yet, be prepared to spend at least $2 000 on design and manufacturing (yes, it’s closely related to MONEY above.)
The key is to give yourself plenty of time to coordinate all this. Production of an 8′ x 12″ trade show wall can take 5 full business days. That doesn’t include the design of it.
Often, a business owner will sign up to an event only to realize that the logo really needs an overhaul…which affects the business cards, flyers, postcards and promo items they were planning to give away.
That means that a re-design is in place. And doing this kind of makeover doesn’t take 5 days. It can take up to 3 months. Save yourself a lot of stress and ulcers: make sure to dedicate time to the design of your visual display.
Once the items are ready for production, make sure to PROOF very carefully. Don’t assume your designer will catch all your spelling mistakes…it’s your job to proof!
Being part of a big event means that people are seeing you and forming a first impression of your business. It’s your job to create the best first impression possible. And that won’t happen if you leave details until the last minute or decide to DIY the whole project.
If your business is ready to take the plunge and invest in trade shows and events I can help with the design. It all begins with a consultation. Get in touch so we can book a time to discuss your project-and come up with a plan of action that works for you.