I have heard so much bad advice on trade shows… Most of the time because the advice applies to established brands. But if you are a start-up or a young brand, be very careful, it can really endanger the cash balance of your company.
The truth is that 90% of the transaction registered or initiated during trade shows concerns recurring clients or account were already likely to buy. So as a young brand, when making assumptions on the return on investment of your $3,000 booth, consider that the new turnover generated must account for the remaining 10%. So most of the time, the return will be negative for your first trade show.
I will go straight to the point, let me tell you the secret sauce not to waste your time and money at trade shows: CHOOSE THE CHEAPEST SHOW IN THE BEGINNING. For sure, nobody will give you this advice at it is not in the interest of the industry. The reason why starting is the cheapest is simple: Practice makes perfect, and you will barely sell anything at your first show. So do not waste your precious cash.
You will hear a lot about amazing shows in Las Vegas or Los Angeles. Indeed those are great shows, all your future clients will be there, but all your competitors as well. Those are not made for the small brands, but for established players, with an army of salesmen and meetings scheduled for the whole week.
You can still attend these shows in the beginning but as a visitor. Take your time, walk through the booths and start collecting insights. What space do I need? What atmosphere do I want to create? What lighting should I rent? Go and talk to salesmen to learn their pitching tactics.
Although, big shows take place several times a year. You don’t want to attend all the editions at first. You will need to choose between the Summer and the Winter edition for instance. Go to both editions as a visitor first and find out which one is the most appropriate for your products.
One last thing to keep in mind. At your first trade shows, nothing will play in your favor. So be prepared to hustle hard;
- You will loose money anyway
- Incumbent exhibitors will always pay less than you for the same space
- Your booth won’t look as good as the one beside you.
- You won’t ever have the best location
- You will have hard times discerning the small buyer from the big one.
- No buyer will know you
Hey! Nobody said that creating an established brand was easy, but the result is worth the effort!