10 Trade Show Prep Tips

Trade Show BoothTrade Shows are an amazing way to market, network, and sell your products and services. When going to a trade show, having a project timeline will amplify sales and marketing efforts as well as put the best possible face on your business. This also allows you to test the market in a public forum and gather much needed feedback.

At a trade show, you can gather intelligent marketing information about your competition, directly contact and show your product or service to potential buyers, and save valuable time and money by reaching prospects without having to rely upon individual meetings and demonstrations.

Here are some tips for preparing for a trade show (starting 4+ weeks before the event):

  1. Organize your information in a binder or folder (virtual or physical), keeping phone numbers, schedule, and any other information in one place.
  2. Prepare a project timeline as soon as you book the show, with a checklist for easy preparation. See the Helpful Tools list below to find online checklists and calendars which will help you stay organized.
  3. Obtain a list of attendees and learn about those contacts you are interested in. Researching the audience and other participants ahead of time in order to prepare for questions and have relevant material will bring you in direct contact armed with info you need. Nothing beats a face to face meeting.
  4. Ask questions of the event management, such as what is provided with the booth, and the booth dimensions. Ask if there will be wi-fi capability, water, and other needs you may require.
  5. Organize your marketing materials; business cards, brochures, banner, your website, and any presentations.
  6. Create a way to collect information from people: names, phone, email, etc… Having a “give away” item is a great way to entice people to give you this information.
  7. Prepare the booth and demonstration materials. Having promotional items such as key chains, pens, etc… and using decorations to draw attention to your booth.
  8. Bring a digital camera to document the event for your website and blog.
  9. Tweet or comment on Facebook from the event.
  10. Have a follow-up plan to reconnect with people you met or collected contact info from.

Use checklist tools to keep your project organized. These services are free and are accessible through your phone as well as your computer. Some great checklist and task list tools are:

Remember the Milk
Toodledo
Workflowy
Todoist

There are wonderful marketing material web sites and tools readily available to help you create business cards, fliers, questionnaires and more:

Vista Print
123Print
iPrint

The most important part is to follow up with potential clients after the trade show. Sending an email to thank your new contacts for stopping by your booth, and let them know that you will be in contact shortly is a great way to start.

Please contact Office Solutions ME today for more assistance in setting up your trade show, creating marketing materials and copywriting, or for any virtual assistance you may need.

Plus, check out the upcoming trade show training program being offered by the Maine Small Business Development Center.

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Entrepreneurs Getting Started, Getting Organized!

What better time to talk about Entrepreneurs, with EWeek right around the corner! EWeek Maine, February 20th through 27th, encourages and supports entrepreneurs with panel discussions, workshops and networking events, designed to foster entrepreneurial education and lifelong learning. Go to http://www.eweekmaine.com/  for a complete listing of events.

Not many of us have one-dimensional lives. Most of us have expectations and requirement coming from many directions; bosses, employees, spouse, children, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, etc… In order to ensure all of these responsibilities are fulfilled and expectations are met, we have to be organized. This holds true, and is even multiplied, if you are the business owner.

Business owners now need to consider not just how to complete an order and the process of making the widget, but also the marketing, security, finances, regulations, taxes, etc… that go into running a company. While these tasks may grow with regards to the company size, they exist on some level at any size. So what is an Entrepreneurs or Solopreneurs (single person company) to do? How can you effectively wear all of these hats?

Here are some options/suggestions;

  1. Take the time to learn all of the functions of running a successful business. Just bite the bullet, take classes, attend seminars, and make time to learn the material.
  2. Find a mentor or business counselor that can help you find resources and give you tips. It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone who continues to expand their knowledge and share that with you.
  3. Hire a consultant or business coach that has experience in running a business or in a particular aspect that you are struggling with. Again, It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone you can trust to help keep you on track.
  4. Get a partner or hire an employee to help share the work load. When choosing to work with others, you add the human resource function to your plate, so be sure that is something you are prepared for.

Here are some websites that I have found helpful as tools and resources for getting started, getting organized, and learning how about the many aspects of running a business;

National Resources

Local (Maine) Resources

If you are not already a member of the Maine Entrepreneurs Group or the Maine Successful Thinkers Group on LinkedIn, I would highly suggest it. There are some great resource discussions.

Feel free to comment on additional resources that you have found helpful!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out our newly created Maine Networking Calendar.