Going to a tradeshow for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you plan carefully, even first-time exhibitors can have a rewarding, successful time attending an industry event. If you're about to attend your first tradeshow, here are some things you should keep in mind:
· Look at it as an investment – Tradeshows can be very expensive to attend, especially for small businesses. The best way to justify spending the money to get on the floor is to look at it as an investment in advertising your business and putting your product in front of interested parties. When you look at a tradeshow as an investment that needs to pay off, it will inspire you to work as hard as possible while you're there to make sure it does.
· Don't be extravagant – Success at a tradeshow is as much about managing the time and space you have correctly as it is moving product and making connections. First time exhibitors should rent the smallest space possible to save money, and they also need to avoid cluttering their booth with excessive displays and other things that get in between the company representatives and the customers. Keep it simple.
· Play offense – A lot of companies look at tradeshows as obligations or defensive measures that they have to play in order to defend their turf. Those companies won’t make the most of their time on the floor. Use the tradeshow as an opportunity to market your business and make connections as aggressively as possible. Most of the opportunities that you’re waiting for won’t come to you – you have to go to them.
· Listen to what buyers say – Tradeshows can be brutal on the ego, especially if this is the first time buyers are seeing your product. Said buyers will have feedback, hesitations, and criticisms that they will very likely tell you about. When they do, listen to what they have to say. Speaking with buyers and other tradeshow attendees in person is an opportunity for feedback straight from your target customers' mouths that you can't afford to ignore.
· Don't expect immediate results – Just because this is your first tradeshow doesn't mean that it will be your only tradeshow. If you expect your brand and products to be immediate, overwhelming successes just from appearing once at a show, you're going to go home very disappointed. Your first tradeshow should be about laying the groundwork and creating networking opportunities that will pay off later. Don't be discouraged that your first tradeshow isn't a blockbuster success.
· Stay organized – Going into a tradeshow disorganized is only going to lead to a frustrating and possibly disastrous experience. Plan out everything you need to have in advance, check multiple times that you have all of it before you leave for the show, and use document management solutions to make sure that all your forms and papers are digitally organized and easy to access.
By keeping these pieces of advice in mind, your business can make the most of its time at a tradeshow and start forging lasting, profitable connections with retailers and other future business partners.
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