A recent B2B Expo was quite an eye opener. Many companies paid $800 to $1000 to create awareness and showcase their product/services. My observation was that few exhibitors got a return on their investment; not because of the attendance but because of poor understanding on the part of the booth “staffers” on how to engage their audience. Sitting behind a table, failing to qualify booth visitors or even ask for their business cards, were some of the negative comments I heard from colleagues who attended looking to do business with the exhibitors.

Trade shows open doors and pave the road to building strong future relationships with current and new customers, the media and other influential players in your marketplace. How you present your business and yourself can have rippling effects for a long period of time. Here are some “tips” on making any opportunity to display your products/services a good return on your time and investment:

  1. Set measurable goals and objectives: close sales, gather names for leads, enhance market visibility.
  2. Choose the right venue: is your market local, national or industry specific and large enough for a good return.
  3. No amount of dazzle in your booth will do more then being enthusiastic and professional: engage prospects, watch your body language, acknowledge visitors, qualify, present and close.
  4. Feature your product/service in a spectacular way: use a large sign, design your message to grab attention in less then 5 seconds, use risers to add better visibility and color, giveaway something they will remember you with.
  5. Measure your results: create your follow up piece ahead of time, use a database with mail merge to store the contacts and call or mail/e-mail something within 7 days of the show.
  6. Be prepared: with qualifying questions, ways to handle objections and when you can get back to them.
  7. Follow-up makes the difference pay more attention to closing sales after the show. Take business cards from every possible prospect, and note their particular interests and concerns.

Exhibiting at trade shows, b2b exhibits and conferences can be important for any size business. At large industry shows more and more company executives are recognizing that these shows can be the number one tool to build a brand and generate leads. Recognize it takes planning. Budget wisely and you too can raise awareness of your product/service if you do it right.

The Challenge: Check out your local chamber’s b2b expo opportunity or other business venues where your marketing dollar will give you the return in visibility, new business and reconnections for 2007.