In manufacturing, there’s so much more to your business than making a good product. Equally important is getting out there, making face-to-face connections, networking, and showcasing your products to the right audience.
Of course one of the best ways to do this is by attending and exhibiting at industry trade shows. In fact, according to data, “88 percent of the attendees at a trade show usually haven’t been seen by a member of your company’s sales staff in the past year, and 70 percent plan to buy one or more products.” Additionally, “Seventy-two percent of visitors say the show itself influences their buying decisions.”* These events also offer invaluable opportunities to learn more about the latest trends and technologies—a crucial aspect of staying competitive.
As regular trade show exhibitors, over the years we’ve learned some of the best ways to make the most of our attendance there. Here are some tips we’ve learned firsthand:
- Location, location, location: This is one of the most important aspects, and if you have a good location, you want to hold onto it every year. If you don’t have a good one, be sure to inquire if anyone has backed out, and try to secure their location. Midway in the first row is the best location, but anywhere in the first or second row is good. People get tired, and if you’re in the last row, they are less likely to stop by. We have actually dropped out of trade shows when our booth wasn’t in a good spot.
- Know your audience: Most attendees come with a purpose in mind and are looking for something specific, so it’s good to anticipate these needs ahead of time. We often have people come to our booth, put down a print, and say “can you make this?” We prepare ourselves and are ready to meet their needs.
- Advertise: We always advertise in a show’s magazine. For instance, we will be exhibiting at the Design-2-Part Show (http://www.d2p.com/ShowInfo) in Schaumburg, IL on May 7 and 8, and we are advertising in the show’s magazines. We have done their shows around the country, and always make sure to advertise in all publications relevant to these shows.
- Networking: As much as it is about displaying your products, the shows are about meeting people. D2P, for example, has a networking event after the show which we will attend, and it’s important to realize that you can get business from other exhibitors and make great connections.
- Seminars: Most trade shows have educational opportunities, which are some of the best ways to learn more about the industry and stay informed. We will be attending these at D2P, and look forward to learning about the latest news, topics, and trends.