So much goes into a trade show that the end result is sometimes overlooked. Companies are so wrapped up in how the booth will look, how much the booth will cost, how much travel is and how much the hotel will be that they sometimes mistake running around preparing for a show with actually preparing how they will be perceived by the intended audience. The honest reason to go to a trade show is to receive product validation from similar business models, others in the industry, and specifically your immediate competition.
I recently attended a trade show where we, for lack of a better term, were pretty small fish in a large ocean. With thousands of exhibitors on display, we had our work cut out for us. Having attended the same show a year prior, we sort of knew what to expect. This year, however, we wanted to really make a splash. To make us stand out we bought a booth in a fairly well-walked route. We had videos playing demonstrating our gear. There were mannequins with our product on display. And of course, we had chachkies. You know, all the little things that people gobble up at trade shows.
A larger booth always impresses. More widgets always impress. More people definitely helps. The big difference, though, was the preparation we did leading up to the show. Not only did we seek out professional media outlets involved with the show to help showcase our product, we brought people who were knowledgeable about the products, who had the experience to be the voice of our brand. Everyone involved knew they were there for one reason, sell the brand. Not just tell people about us so they’d buy on the spot, but to really sell the brand. Sales will come if the presentation and the belief in the product is there
We have a great story. But it’s not a great story because we think it is, it’s a great story because it’s truly the American Dream. When someone can build a company from nothing, from a singular idea, and develop it into something everyone who works for the company can believe in, that’s something special.
To get back to the point, why go to a trade show? Simple. Companies who have a unique perspective, companies who have a deeply rooted belief in what they do, can succeed in the large trade show arena surrounded by big fish because what they have is intangible. They have pride that the employees and families of the employees can feel. Go one step further, and the customers who already know the brand can feel it. When you take these same people and put them in front of a captive audience, you have the ability to sway minds, you have the ability to give someone who may have never heard of you a chance to become part of something great.
The trade show we attended was an overwhelming success; not because we sold a bunch of our products, but because we were able to interact with people from all walks of life who could listen to our story and embrace it. Did everyone we talk to buy from us? No. But I guarantee that when the ones who didn’t buy from us start seeing our commercials on TV, seeing news articles about us, or they start seeing relevant publications taking notice, it won’t take long for them to reach out to us. And that right there is why you should go to a trade show.