If you’re in the process of trying to start your business, you know the importance of trying to find a demand for your product or service. Without enough demand, you won’t be able to establish a scalable business model.
The chance to present your startup at an exhibition is an exciting opportunity. Exhibitions give companies the chance to showcase their products and services, in the hope that potential customers or investors will show an interest. There are many different types of exhibitions to choose from, including ones that are specifically designed for startup companies.
Before you commit to attending an exhibition, there are certain factors to take into consideration. To make the most of the opportunity, you’ll want to plan and prepare to make sure you’re ready for the event.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure your startup is exhibition ready.
While exhibitions can be fun to attend, that shouldn’t be your primary goal. Before you attend any event, think about how it fits into your overall marketing strategy. If you lack a consistent brand, don’t have a target audience in mind, or don’t feel ready to network, you’re not ready to attend an exhibition. Ideally, you should be able to see how attending an event will generate new customers or will build your brand awareness. If you have an existing marketing strategy in place, the event aligns with the goals within that plan, and you have the budget and resources available, that is a good indication that you’re ready to attend an exhibition.
Once you have an event in mind, you’re going to want to evaluate the event to make sure the audience at the event will be a good fit for your business. People attending exhibitions are looking for very specific products or services. If your business doesn’t align with the needs of the visitors that will be at the event, they’re not going to stop and chat with you. You’ll also want to make sure you have the resources to attend an event. Exhibitions take place both indoors and outdoors. For an indoor event, you can get away with banners and promotional materials. But if you’re at an outdoor event, you might need something more flashy. For an example of what you might need at an outdoor event, check out these event structures, trailers and exhibition stands from Showplace.
Once you have an event in mind, start pulling together what you want to share at the event. You’ll want to have a sales pitch, examples of your products, business cards, promotional items, and a way to draw people over to you. Getting potential customers or investors to come over to you is half the challenge, but once they’re there, you’re going to want to make sure you’re prepared to wow them. Consider attending other exhibitions as a visitor so that you can see how other businesses are promoting themselves. If there is a strategy that you really like, consider how you can replicate that strategy within your own business.
If you don’t have any experience with in-person networking, you might feel nervous about chatting with potential customers or investors at your first exhibition. To prepare, you’re going to want to practice your sales pitch. It is also beneficial to anticipate any potential questions and practice answering them. Have a friend or family member ask you questions about your products or services. The more you practice, the more natural your sales pitch will sound.
Where most businesses, no matter how new or old they are, go wrong is that they do not follow up with potential customers after the exhibition. If someone shows interest in your products or services, get their name and email address so that you can follow-up with them through email or through a newsletter. One way to collect this information is to have a raffle. People will provide you with their contact information in exchange for the chance to win a prize. Once you have that information, take the time to send people that stopped by a quick thank you note and link them to your website.
Attending an exhibition can be worth it, but only if your startup is ready. If you don’t yet have a marketing strategy or you’re not prepared for everything that goes into an exhibition, it is better to skip the event and start preparing for the next exhibition.