7 Trade Show Tips and Tricks I wish I knew When I started as a Marketer
As a marketer one of my favorite marketing topics to discuss is face-to-face marketing. I know it is one of the most important foundation marketing strategies for companies to consider as part of a well-rounded marketing and brand plan.
Here is a short list of trade show tips and tricks that I wish I knew a bit earlier in my career. If you have some of your own, please share them with me.
#1 The Certified Scale
Always have your machinery weighed at an independent, certified scale. This takes time and may add a small cost to your shipping but is definitely one of my top tips. If you are getting charged for material handling – also called “drayage” at a trade show then this can save you money and time. Drayage can be a big expense, almost $1 per pound, so being accurate on weigh scales is important and it may get you into the show faster as the “weigh scale” that the general contractor uses is in high demand at trade show. If your machine or merchandise has been pre-screened and does not need to use the scale, it goes right to your booth.
#2 Select the Right Shipping Company
Hire a company that regularly delivers equipment to trade shows as your shipping provider. Shipping into a trade show is a “hurry up and wait” game, so a company with drivers that understand the game makes a big difference. The waiting, when there is no end in sight for the poor driver that checks into the yard, can create a very frustrated and flustered driver. More than once my driver has said: “I am going home if the line does not start moving soon”. The problem is, that truck drivers get paid on mileage and dropping goods. Two things that are not happening, when the driver has to wait 5 hours in line.
#3 Get to the Trade Show Early
As I write this blog, I am remembering a flight I took from our small regional airport to Midway airport in Chicago. As it happened, I took a very early flight and it kind of backfired on me. Chicago was socked in with fog. We flew part way, got turned back and had to land back at our home airport. The moral of the story is that stuff just goes wrong at trade shows and many of these things are out of our control. That particular day I had two flights into Chicago and only one landing. One thing that is in our control is schedule. So my best advice: get to the show early and get your booth up early and get your machine hooked up early or whatever it is that you need to do. Not having to fight over resources like electricians, forklift operators, plumbers and decorators is a good thing.
#4 The Advance Warehouse
If you are organized and can ship your booth or your display material to an advance warehouse, you can bypass the big line-up for unloading. Picture this: all the trucks have to check in at a marshaling yard with the show contractor. They get a number they wait hours and hours. You are supposed to be moved in at 1 PM. Never happens because the trucks get backed up usually due to Murphy’s Law. If you had shipped to the advance warehouse your crates are first to arrive.
#5 Accessible Storage
One of the little known trade show secrets is that you can “buy” a service called accessible storage from the show contractor. This is limited space that may be on the show floor or it might be outside, but tarped and nearby. This storage is meant for companies or people that need access to spare parts or consumable parts during that show and don’t have enough space in their exhibit. The great thing about purchasing this type of storage is that you know where your crates are, and they usually get delivered back to your booth first which is great, as it allows you to pack up quickly.
# 6 Always Speak at Shows
This is a biggie. Always, always, always take the opportunity to speak and present technical knowledge at trade shows. Pick a topic, make it educational, bring your customer or partner and co-present on something of interest to the attendees. Speaking demonstrates your market leadership, innovation, and your expertise. Remember the golden rule of marketing: when you are at the front of the room, you are the expert. People love experts.
#7 Planning Your Getaway
Everyone is always exhausted at the end of a week of exhibiting, networking, client dinners out at night, so planning your efficient exit from a trade show makes good common sense and gets you home quicker! I always made sure that whatever materials we needed to prepare a machine or a display for shipping was kept in our booth or in accessible storage. I didn’t ever want to have to wait for our crates to come back from the crate storage area (which can take hours) to begin to prep our display for the trip home or to the next trade show.
Besides the crates, make sure you have everything else you need at the ready. Some of these items include tape, rolls of poly/plastic, shipping labels, plastic tie downs, zip ties, address labels, customs shipping forms, etc.
Are you reading this and thinking to yourself, hey, I have a Tip that I should share…well please let me know. I would love to include it in future blogs.
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