Fasten your seatbelt and make sure your seat is in the upright position. Trade show season is about to take off. Isn’t this exciting? Networking opportunities, cross country trips, new IT trends — you name it. Great investment for organizations. And a great opportunity to make big money. But, this is only true if you make the most of the time you’ll be spending at the shows.
What to do before, during and after a trade show? Good ROI will only be possible if you’re well prepared. Here are a few tips to make the most out of the time and money you invest in a trade show.
- Be prepared. Be ready. Be poised. It doesn’t matter how you say it. Just do it. There are many ways you can ensure you’re fully prepared for each show. Who are the exhibitors? Do you know these vendors? Are you already reselling their services? Or do they have a solution you’d like to add to your offering?
- Establish a strategy. It’s a good idea to visit the vendors you deal with. You can reconnect, learn about their new products and reconfirm they are helping you stay ahead of the game. It’s also important to know what’s out there.
- Meet other vendors. Identify potential partnerships. Let’s face it. You can’t grow your business by hiding in your cave. In addition to keeping abreast of new technologies, you also need the right relationships. For example, if you feel a particular vendor is going one way and you’re heading in the opposite direction, maybe it’s time to move on.
Floorplans are almost always available on-site. Make a pit stop to get one. If you’re lucky, the floorplan might even be available before the show. You’ll spend more time talking to vendors and less time looking for them. Talk about productive trade show skills!
- Book meetings. Face to face time will help you take the pulse of different vendors. It’ll be much easier for you to see which ones are a fit and which ones aren’t. Plus, you’ll get a better understanding of their products. Make sure to set up meetings before the show with your top 5 vendors. Exhibitors’ breaks are often short and crowded. If you guarantee your spot, you’ll be able to get a good conversation going.
- What’s in it for you? It’s also important to gather information about the vendors’ partner network. How many partners do they have? Are they channel-centric, or are they direct competitors? Do they offer tools to help their partners better compete? Do they provide regular training so you can keep up to date with the latest technologies?
At the show
- Spend your time on-site wisely. If you followed the pre-show guidelines carefully, this should be a piece of cake. You’ll have time to wander around the exhibit, go to specific seminars and meet with your targeted vendors.
- Network like a pro. Your company invested money in this show. Get the most out of it. Meet vendors, and not just the ones you had planned to. Leave some time for those vendors who spark your attention during the show.
- Enjoy yourself. You’re in the land of endless possibilities. Yes, you’re there to do business. But who says you can’t combine business and fun? Participate in social happenings. They’re a great opportunity to meet other partners. Who knows, maybe someone will recommend a great vendor you might have overlooked!
- Take a step back. Once again, timing is key. Take the time to evaluate the potential partnerships you built at the trade show. List the pros and cons of the vendors before making any decisions. Take into account the margins, solutions offered, support, enablement tools, etc.
- Read post-show literature. Trade shows can be overwhelming. Another great way to make sure you didn’t miss anything is to read the blogs presented by the vendors.
Now keep these tips in mind and you should be able to make your next trade show a success!
Our team will be at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo, March 16-18 in Las Vegas. We’ll be glad to see you there. Better yet, why don’t you schedule a meeting with us? And make sure to check out our blog for more information about IT tradeshows, trends, technologies, etc.