Who represents you at a trade show is what will make or break the day for you and your company. Here’s how to choose the perfect team to represent your business and make the most of the event.
Experience counts. Companies like Midlake Custom Hinges know this, and that’s why they consistently rank above their peers in the custom hinges business.
How much experience do your employees have at trade shows? For many companies, a trade show marks the only real opportunity to make a great first impression. So, don’t throw it away by putting amateurs at the booth. Make sure your staff understands what the trade show is about, and what you need to accomplish there.
Attitude is everything – especially at trade shows. When you’re making decisions about how to staff the booth, keep in mind that staff members have to want to be there. Otherwise, it’s going to be painfully obvious to visitors. And, that’s not good for business.
Make sure all departments are represented. If a customer wants to speak to the sales manager, it’s a good idea if he’s there. But, when that’s not possible, you should at least have a sales representative there.
At the same time, you also want to staff the booth with employees from quality control, engineers who worked on the product, and manufacturing staff. These are all vital members of your company, and savvy consumers will want to know about your product in detail – and these “back end” people are the ones that can explain it all.
If you’ve never been to a trade show, it pays to go to one before you buy into a show yourself. Beyond that, practice your trade show chops. Bring in a trainer that can effectively train your staff on how to act and react at a trade show. This isn’t something that your employees already know how to do.
It’s important to set expectations right from the outset. Outline the specific goals and objectives that you want to achieve before every show. Then, put a plan together – an outline if you will – that your staff will use to draw in leads, follow up with them, demo the products or services, and quantify results.
You should define what success means when you go to a trade show, and then measure the metrics for the objectives. For example, if a successful trade show is one where you collect 50 leads for a follow up appointment, then you would measure metrics oriented around this. You would measure total visitor flow to the booth, number of engaged prospects, number of demos or giveaways, and number of phone numbers (or other verifiable contact information) collected.
From these numbers, you can measure traffic to the booth and a closing ratio for follow up appointments. This tells you whether your trade show marketing strategy is working. If it’s not, you need to revamp it. If it is, keep doing what you’re doing, and set higher goals next time.
Julie Shrum has worked at Midlake since her father decided to retire way back in 1996. She has accumulated a vast knowledge of hinges and metalworking during her time as sales manager. Julie works closely with the sales team to create the best customer experience possible. She continues to learn daily about new applications for sheet metal fabrication.