One of the most effective ways to prospect for new clients is in the attendance and/or participation (sponsoring) of trade shows. Most industries have them, whether they are business-to-business or business-to-consumer focused.
“When participating in trade shows, it is important to maximize your investment of time, resources and money through ten key strategies,” says Jo Ann Florey of Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corporation and a 25-year industry veteran. Here are the strategies that Jo Ann recommends:
1. Invest in a First-Class Banner or Display. Having a professional and eye catching design will help draw people in your direction, while also showing that you are serious about doing business and serving customers.
2. Offer an incentive for visitors to share their name and contact information. These days people are more guarded about who they give their names and phone numbers out to…unless you offer something they value in return. This could be a token gift (something decent) or an opportunity to win a major prize (Gas cards are becoming popular these days).
3. Create action to draw people to your booth or table. Jo Ann gives away different prizes, which is determined by a giant spinning wheel. This creates action and sounds that gets peoples’ attention.
4. Always be prepared to display. You never know when an opportunity to participate in an event will arise—therefore you should have your entire “kit” of materials and tools pre-packed and ready to go on a moment’s notice.
5. Display your literature with clear acrylic stands. These materials can be found at most office supply stores, are inexpensive and will present your materials in first class style.
6. Make sure your sign-up forms have a “do not call” disclaimer. When a visitor/prospect fills out their name and phone number on a form, it must state that they are giving you permission to contact them even though they may be on a do- not-call list.
7. Have something for people of all ages. Obviously if you are marketing to adults at an event open to families, having something available for children can win the attention of their parents. This can be coloring books, crayons, or even an activity.
8. Distribute magnetic business cards. Simple backings for cards are very inexpensive—and it increases the chances of your contact information being posted on the fridge rather than tossed in the trash or lost in a pocket.
9. Cross promote with strategic partners. Seek out other non-competing professionals or vendors and suggest displaying each others’ materials to direct people to each others’ tables.
10. Create relationships by delivering value. Ultimately, have your prospects/visitors walk away with something from which they can benefit, such as a book or video with useful information—and directing them back to you as the source if they have questions.
Trade shows can be great exposure and an opportunity to meet new prospective clients. Remember, it is your investment of time, money and resources. Make the most of it by landing one client (who in turn can introduce you to new prospects) and the investment will have paid for itself!
Of course, that’s your goal, isn’t it?