Should Startups Exhibit at Trade Shows?

70 % of professionals marketers agree to say that in-person events have better pay-off than other marketing activities*. Exhibiting at a trade show is the insurance of reaching a large audience of interested buyers at a time they are actively looking for new products.

On the other hand, trade shows are among the most complex marketing & sales activities to organize and certainly the most expensive as well.

How can startup define whether they should exhibit at a trade show?

10 reasons why startups should exhibit at trade shows

It is more difficult for freshly launched startups to find customers than established companies because of a lack of credibility – why should customers trust you more than a competitor that already has a track-record?
Trade shows can be the perfect solution to overcome this obstacle.

  1. You get instant feedback
  2. You meet with people that are willing to listen to you
  3. You build a list of potential clients to convert afterwards
  4. You can study what your competition does in other booths
  5. You can make live demos of your product and identify the right method to do it
  6. You can test the arguments that convince people
  7. You increase your brand awareness
  8. You network with other professionals of your industry
  9. You can setup meetings with potential buyers who wouldn’t agree to meet you otherwise
  10. You can observe how people use your product

Nevertheless, you need discipline if you wish to succeed at trade shows.

Pick your event wisely

Don’t go to any random event without preparation. As said earlier, exhibitions are expensive and time consuming, therefore you must pick the right one!

  • Choose events related to your industry
  • See if there is any “LaunchPad” in your region – events specially for startups
  • If you can, attend the event once before exhibiting there, to estimate the traffic and potential
  • Check comments and reviews about this event
  • Study the cost for a booth rental: multiply it by 5 to have an estimate of your total budget

Set targets

You can’t spend tens of thousands of dollars and weeks of hard work without tracking anything.

Set clear targets for yourself and your team in terms of:

  • Budget
  • Leads captured
  • Contracts signed (afterwards)
  • Revenue generated (afterwards)

Only this way will you be able to review your results and estimate your success.

Organise your event ahead of time

Exhibiting in a trade show is not something you plan 3 weeks in advance.

In the best case scenario, you should start to prepare 6 to 8 months before the event but allow yourself at LEAST 3 months to get ready. There is so much to prepare! Booth location, design, carpet, furniture, lighting, electricity, shipment, plane tickets, hotel, food, toolbox, etc. Don’t join an event in last minute!

If you are not an expert (an even if you are!), you absolutely need a tool that will help you manage every aspect of your event. You need a planning checklist, a budget sheet, cloud hosting for your marketing material, a business cards scanner, some digital form to collect leads, a mailbox to follow-up, a CRM to convert prospects and some analytics to monitor your results.

Don’t try to do it all yourself without assistance – it would be the best way to waste your time and money! You can check myfairtool to get a tool that will assist your through your entire journey.

Talk to people

The basic rules in your exhibition booth are:

  • Do not play with your phone
  • Do not eat or drink

  • Do not look at your feet
  • Do not chit chat with colleagues

Instead, look at visitors in the eye, smile and welcome them to your booth. Ask only open questions and capture prospect information as soon as possible to identify the potential of each visitor.

Follow-up QUICKLY!

80% of the leads captured at trade shows are never followed-through due to a lack of management tools & management processes. Be part of the 20 other percents!
The rule here is 48h – you must send a personalized email to your prospects within 48h after their visit. Why? Because they have talked to tens of people, visited hundreds of booths and seen thousands of products – how long do you think they will remember you?
Follow-up quickly, the earlier the better!

Guest Author : Julien Rio is the founder & CEO of myfairtool , the only trade show solution to assist exhibitors through every step of their journey and regularly helps startups improve their results at business events and maximize their return on investment.

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