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Making the most of next year's tradeshows

How to make the most of next year’s trade shows

It’s time for businesses to start circling dates on their calendar, as 2014 brings 12 more months of trade shows. That’s a whole year’s worth of opportunities to perfect the art of the convention, better promote their companies and build stronger relationships with potential clients. Everything from pre-event planning to tradeshow giveaways play an important part of businesses’ success at these events, so it’s essential that companies review some tips for successful trade shows before booking flights. Here are some of the basics to start this year off right.

Getting perspective
As Thomas Jefferson once said – according to Monticello’s official website – “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Businesses will only get as much out of trade shows as they put into them. To be successful, they will need to dedicate both time and money well before the big event.

The first step to planning a trade show visit is to get in the right mindset. As Inc. Magazine recently noted, the most successful companies at trade shows are the ones that view trade shows as opportunities for offense, not defense. Trade shows require money, yes, but they are investments that can pay off big if done right.

Once a business has chosen to approach the trade show in earnest, it’s time to pick the right one. A business should ask where it might have the biggest impact, suggested Forbes. It’s also important to consider what kind of team to send. Depending on the type of trade show and the kinds of potential customers and partners that might be there, it may be more effective to send executives or subject matter experts rather than just the business development team.

Picking the right materials
A trade show may seem to be the right place for advertising, but in reality, the most valuable gain at a convention is the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with potential customers and partners. That doesn’t mean avoid all kinds of advertising – Small Business Trends recommended to businesses that they invest in their booths to make them eye-catching, which will help draw clients to talk business in the first place. However, once a business has grabbed customers’ attentions, its time to focus on making a quality connection.

Promotional items can serve as a great accompaniment to building those relationships. The key to implementing them well, however, is not by using them as a throwaway souvenir, but as an essential element of a business’s branding.

We still believe in giving people something tangible to walk away with, but you want something beyond the useless tchotchke,” Phil Cavanuagh, vice president of events for Monster.com told Inc.

The writer for Forbes gave the example of courting a few potential clients over dinner, followed by giving them promotional flash drives with information pertinent to the company on them. Businesses should give plenty of thought to the kinds of customers they want to attract and the kinds of things they might find interesting or useful.

After the show
The work that goes into trade shows doesn’t end with closing remarks. Conventions are opportunities for businesses to get their foot in the door. Once that’s done, it’s time to follow through. Businesses should make sure they get contact information from potential clients, according to Small Business Trends. Follow-up messages and letters show that a business is willing to go the extra mile in pursuit of a client. Promotional gifts are also a way to keep a company on customers’ minds well after the trade show. If the gift is thoughtful enough and the client uses it often, then it may just serve as a daily reminder.

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