For retail owners it is very important to find every way to grow your business. Attending trade shows is one way to get out there and network, but you can make a larger impact when you exhibit. Planning full product demos, being a keynote speaker, and training sessions are just a few ways to engage with business owners just like you looking to expand in their market. Trade shows connect shop owners with products and products with shop owners which makes it a mutually beneficial event. An industry event can really help boost your business, but without the proper strategy in place, it can be a complete waste of time and at worst, negatively affect your image.

You will want to dig into the these tools necessary the next time you are ready to present at a big show in your market. It requires great planning and coordination for your booth to really stand out. This is where you build a strong strategy and focus with your team to take the next show by storm and be “The Rockstar Booth” of the event.

Here’s a list of essential approaches to acing your next trade show appearance:

Plan Ahead. One great rule to follow is proper planning typically takes about 8 weeks to pull of a successful large-scale event. This is at the low end though, and it goes without saying that, a fairly large event in any major city could require as much as a year to plan. Understand the scale of the event, what your goals are in what plan to get out of it and the team you will need to prep and add time where needed. The more time you spend on planning the more successful your show will be.

Choose the Best Show. You’d be surprised at the number of trade shows held in the United States every year. Be sure to pick the best shows that result in paying you back for your time and money invested. Booking flights, rental cars, hotel rooms for your staff when traveling to another city can also contribute to this planning process. A show in New York City is going to require a larger budget compared to Nashville or in your own town, so a great understanding of your target demographic and impact in major cities will also determine your need to attend.

Location, Location, Location. If you are like many business owners, you want the same things for your retail shop. To stand out. One of the best ways to do this is to reflect upon an original rule;“location, location, location!”. Make sure to find the best location for your booth. With your welcoming booth design and energetic crew, you’ll want to be in a place that is high-traffic to truly capture as many eyes as possible. Looks do matter.

Arrange Appointments. Making commitments to appointments set up for the show is a great way to engage or connect with people while the energy is high and there’s a scent of ambition in the air. To avoid not being available for that really important client or potential partner, make sure to get on the phone 3-6 weeks before the event. Use this opportunity to invite people to meet you at the show. Capitalize on every opportunity to set appointments and invite people into your booth to share what you have to offer.

Set Clear and Attainable Objectives. Prior to any campaign there needs to be a brainstorming session to answer questions like; “How many leads can we generate?”, “What kind of vendors will be at the show?”, “Is this strictly B2B, B2C or both?”. When you are planning a trade show identify needs; do you want leads, awareness, customer relationships, market leadership or all of the above?

Always Take Notes. Train yourself, and your staff, to make this a habit and they will increase their relationship building dramatically. This tip is also important because it is not just about the people you encounter but as well the overall feel of your presence at the show. Take time to allow your team to walk the floor and take notes about things they liked and disliked from other booths and then their own.

Announce Your Presence. There is no need to wait until the trade show to start generating buzz. There are countless approaches like; hosting a webinar with a countdown for the show, spreading it all over social media, or pushing out an online press release with details about what will be featured at the show.

Be A Keynote Speaker. Remember, we are still in an emergent industry, so if you are an established influence in your market, you are in a prime position to contribute by sharing your knowledge and processes. Just remember, when you speak, try not to focus pitching your brand. Contributing to the growth in your industry is powerful and people will trust you as an authoritative figure. Help the leaders in your industry by answering the challenging questions. Be knowledgeable and confident in your information and you’ll gain clients just by pure attraction.

Rally Your Best Crew. The first and most important thing for event staff are to be engaging, welcoming and determined to build relationships for your business. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked an exhibit floor to find staff just staring blankly out of their booth sitting behind a table. Please do not do this. Remove the table (walls) and step out in front with the people. Think about it, your business is spending thousands or tens of thousands for growth and to engage new partnerships, you can rest later!

SWAG It Up. It’s no argument that the cool promotional items you bring with you will directly impact your ability to attract attention and create buzz around your trade show exhibition. Open the budget up and put your company name or logo on pens, keychains, show bags, badge holders and anything you can push out into people’s hands. Give them something useful, memorable and noticeably promoting your shop or product in a new way.

Stay Active on Social Media. Do not lose sight of the in-person interactions and forget about your larger audience that love product or walk into your shop everyday. Social media is a driving force in engagement these days, and being active through trade shows will increase that engagement. Connect with your fans and raise awareness for potential clients that are at the show and draw them to you through live updates and interactive content like hosting a Q&A segment or product demonstration. Oh by the way, if you are not on social media, get out there and get a few accounts. If you do not you are missing on tons of business and ways to talk to your customers and vendors.

I hope these tips give you the edge needed to pull off an amazing trade show that produces the results you want. The most important and last tip I have is; have fun. Meet other retail owners, have lunches, network at post-show events and enjoy yourself. Promoting your retail shop or product should come second nature at this point, so don’t be afraid to get out there and tell people about your business. SVBS

John Bailey Headshot PhotoJohn Bailey is the Affiliate Program Manager for Davinci Vaporizer.  John  brings a wealth of knowledge in many facets of marketing and branding experience to the industry. John loves health and fitness, Doctor Who, dark scotch, hiking, and photography.  Contact him at (512) 954-4630 or email [email protected] or visit www.davincivaporizer.com/affiliate.