Best Practices for Exhibiting at Your Next Tradeshow

08/20/2012 — Matt Nagel

Harry Centa - Senior Program ManagerA tradeshow is a great way to get in front of your customers.Managing shipping programs for over 100 associations means that PartnerShip attends its fair share of tradeshows and events. What we've gleaned from all of these tradeshows is that there is always something new to learn, and things are always changing. That's why we called on one of the PartnerShip resident tradeshow experts to share some experience and knowledge that he has gathered over the years.

Harry Centa, a senior program manager with PartnerShip, has attended over 100 tradeshows in his seven year career with the company. When asked why tradeshows are important to small businesses, Harry said, —Tradeshows are a great way to put a face and personality to your company. The face-to-face interactions and conversations you have at tradeshows go a long way in building relationships and solidifying leads for your company. That's why we take tradeshows seriously and invest resources in this valuable tool.'

We asked Harry for some tips on pre-show, at-show, and post-show best practices and this is the advice he had to offer:

  • Pre-Show — —Decide on a plan of attack for the upcoming show. Establish what you want to accomplish, how you are going to accomplish it, and what tools you'll need to successfully carry out your plan. You can then start thinking about collateral, giveaways, and promotions leading up to the show. Determine if your booth will ship to the advance warehouse or directly to the showsite. Lastly, bringing your own table, chairs, modular carpet squares, etc. can dramatically reduce your exhibiting costs.'
  • At-Show — —If possible, setup your booth a day in advance of the show start, that way you are not rushed, have plenty of time to make extra copies of your marketing materials, and deal with any emergencies that can arise from time to time. Take advantage of every networking opportunity, and be sure to track all leads. For larger shows, renting a lead retrieval scanner is a wise choice, and for smaller shows, taking notes on business cards works just as well."
  • Post-Show — —Write down what you learned through your show experience — it will be valuable for future shows. Also, be sure to follow up with any leads you received at the show in a timely manner. Striking while the iron is hot will ensure you are fresh in the prospect's mind and you won't get sent to voice mail with the rest of the sales calls. Another best practice is to send a post show eblast and/or postcard to the attendees list (if offered) to remind them of your product or service.'

Additionally, Harry emphasized, —The most important aspect of tradeshows is getting your booth and show materials to the tradeshow on-time and in one piece. Without a booth or materials for customers, the tradeshow experience is hampered considerably.' Harry went on to say, —Shipping my tradeshow materials is one part of the tradeshow process I leave to the tradeshow shipping experts here at PartnerShip!'

Your booth is now at the show, you've followed Harry's pre-show rituals to a T — now, how do you drive people to your booth? —There's not much point in going to a tradeshow if your just going to stand there and shuffle your feet for 8 hours.' said Harry, —I use giveaways as a method for driving traffic to my booth, and once customers are there I use that opportunity to discuss PartnerShip and the services we provide. Tradeshows are constantly changing, but one idea will always hold true: People love free stuff - pens, pads or any swag in general!' Harry went on to stress that a consistent, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing display is an important tool in catching people's eye, getting your sales pitch out, and getting literature in a customer's hand.

Tradeshows can be an investment for your company, but when done right, tradeshows are one of the most useful tools in your sales toolbox. The PartnerShip goal is to make sure your booth is at a tradeshow on-time and you are prepared for a successful show. That's why we've developed some tradeshow specific information for our customers: The 411 on Tradeshow Shipping and our tradeshow helpful hints page.

If you have any additional questions about shipping to tradeshows, about tradeshows in general, or would like to quote a shipment to your next show — contact the PartnerShip dedicated tradeshow team at tradeshow@PartnerShip.com or call 800-599-2902. You can also contact Harry Centa at the above information.

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