Trade shows and exhibitions are an important tool for businesses in any industry, but especially so in cannabis, where face-to-face connections are quite important. In-person expos offer an excellent opportunity for new and old companies to connect with other brands and industry professionals for the mutual benefit of their businesses. If you’re exhibiting at a trade show or other event for the first time, these tips can help you make the most of your time on the show floor.
1. Set goals for your trade show attendance
What do you want to achieve at the show? Think about what you want to get out of your experience before the show starts. This way, you can shape your booth around achieving those goals. For example, if your goal is to grow your contact list by 5%, you may want to offer free items, promotions, or other incentives in exchange for signing up for company emails at the booth.
2. Take inventory of what you need for the show
Planning in advance is essential to ensuring you’ll have a successful experience as a first-time exhibitor. Make a list of exactly what you’ll need and gather these items well before the show date. This advanced planning gives you time to note if anything is missing without having to scramble for it at the last minute. Inventory needs for a trade show can include all furniture, lighting, signage, giveaways, and takeaway materials like business cards or flyers.
Some expos and trade shows offer turnkey booths to eliminate the hassle of planning. A turnkey booth is set up and ready to go right when you arrive. These booths generally include essentials like tables and chairs, so all you have to bring is some literature – and yourself!
If you’re building your booth from the ground-up, it’s smart to begin planning as soon as you decide to exhibit. Larger, custom booths require design and construction that needs to be booked well in advance.
3. Figure out how everything is getting there
If you plan to hand carry your items to booth setup – meaning, you don’t need freight service to bring items to your booth – plan what you need in advance. Make sure all your items fit in your car before you head to the show. This will allow you time to figure out what works and make arrangements for items or supplies that don’t. Be sure to follow the venue’s rules for unloading your items, including time limits and parking instructions.
If you do need freight service, venues are contracted with a specific service to help load your items, build any fixtures if need be, and send everything back to your chosen address when the show is over. You’ll receive this information from the expo organizers when you sign up for your space.
4. Confirm staff scheduling
Having some help at your booth can go a long way. Whether your staff or hired help, knowledgeable people who can speak dynamically about your business help you connect with more attendees. Don’t wait to get this staff in place – schedule your team members or other help in advance. Give everyone at your booth the details they need to have an educated discussion about your company with attendees.
5. Let people know you’ll be there
Once plans for your booth are in place, it’s time to advertise your attendance. Use social media, email marketing, and other channels to let the world know you’ll be exhibiting at the event. You can also come up with marketing strategies to help you meet potential clients.
In addition to advertising through your own channels, following and interacting with the trade show on social media is an easy way to let other attendees and brands know you are exhibiting. Brands looking for extra exposure may also want to consider becoming a sponsor of the event.
6. Promote other exhibitors and speakers
Supporting others is a great way to have them return the favor. If you have someone walking the floor or attending panel sessions, make sure they promote others on social media and tag them along with the trade show. Not only does promoting others generate good will for your brand, it helps let people know you’re attending the show too by giving you a consistent stream of quality content for your own channels.
7. Engage meaningfully with your visitors
You have the opportunity to make thousands of first impressions at a trade show. Greet each person who comes to your booth with sincerity and enthusiasm. Refrain from sitting down too much and avoid focusing on your phone. Rather, watch for attendees looking to speak with you and be ready to interact with them. Try these icebreaker questions to start a meaningful conversation with your visitor:
- What brings you to the expo?
- Where are you traveling from?
- What’s your profession?
How you act at the booth can be a reflection on your company, too. Try to avoid looking down at your phone in between visits, instead saying hello to passersby or offering literature about your company.
9. Walk the show floor
It’s important to remember that networking is just as valuable as having a conversation at your booth. It’s a good idea for at least one person from your team to walk around the show floor, checking out other booths and making connections with fellow exhibitors. This team member is usually responsible for distributing and collecting business cards, as well as conversing with exhibitors and attendees. In addition to connecting and networking with other companies, walking the trade show flow is an easy way to head home with a bag full of useful giveaways.
10. Attend events and after-parties
Most trade shows have events and after-parties, where you can follow up with people you met throughout the day. While these may sound like an optional fun time, it’s where deals get done! It’s always wise to take advantage of these opportunities and attend as many after-parties as you feel up for.
11. Evaluate your experience at the end of the show
Taking time to reflect on your experience once the trade show closes to plan a more successful show the next time around. Sit down with your team to discuss the events of the day. You may even want to survey them about their experience. Some questions to consider asking your team are:
- Was the show worthwhile?
- Did you generate strong leads or make quality contacts?
- What were the most valuable moments for you?
12. Follow up with your contacts
After a trade show, it can be difficult – nor is it expected of you – to remember each and every conversation. That’s where a strong follow-up comes into play. Be sure to send an email or schedule a call with the contacts you’ve made. For best results, try to follow up within a week or two of the event to make sure your conversations are still fresh in the other attendees’ minds.
Ready to rumble?
Ready to exhibit at your first trade show? Exhibitor passes and turnkey booths for the June 1 – 3, 2023 CWCBExpo are currently on sale for a discounted rate until Nov. 1, 2022. Follow these tips to help attract and engage others for a successful exhibition that generates buzz and business for your company.