It’s trade show season and time for companies and businesses to weigh the the benefits of having a presence against the costs incurred to be there. It is not just money that you invest when you go to a trade show, you are also investing time – time for preparation and time when you and your staff are away from the day-to-day running of the business. The important question you must ask yourself is whether attending a trade show will have a positive effect upon your business? So it is worth taking a few moments to consider what you want to achieve by taking a stand at a show. It could be the number of leads you want to make; the number of quality conversations that take place; the meetings that emerge as a result of the trade show or an increase in size of your company’s social media presence. It is costly to have a stand at a show so you must ensure you make maximum use of the show. Plan a pre-, during and post-event campaign. Leading up to the show, make sure all your customers, clients and potential customers know you will be there and available for conversations. If you or one of your colleagues is speaking at the event, try to get as much media coverage as possible and use all your social media channels to advertise the fact. If you have a special exhibition or an event during the show, again, make sure you give this as much exposure as possible. Trade shows present a great opportunity to get media coverage - you could schedule a press conference relating to a new product launch or some insightful information that you are able to share. Ensure that everyone working on your stand is on message at all times. Every member of staff should be thoroughly briefed on new products and company news. And make sure they take details of as many visitors as possible – these could be your future customers. It is also important to plan coverage and publicity for after the show has ended. Gather video footage, pictures, interviews, quotes and anything else that can be used as post-event coverage. Survey your customers and then prepare a press release based on the results of the survey. Doing follow-up work after the show is important. Contact and then keep in touch with all the leads that were captured during the show. Add them to your CRM and any social media platforms. If they are active on social media, follow them and engage with them when appropriate. Start a conversation and then keep it going. Prospects don’t turn into customers overnight, you need to be persistent and patient in your approach. On a practical side, it is also important to make sure you and your team are prepared for every eventuality. It is worth visiting the venue several times ahead of the show and getting to know the team who are providing show services. If you need an extra power cable fitted, it is good to know who to talk to. Also, make sure you bring your own spare batteries, cords, computer and other basics. Any technical issues need to be ironed out before the doors open on the first day. You should also be ready for any last minute plan changes. The very best ideas often come just before or event during the show - be prepared to be flexible. Finally, don’t remain on your stand all day. It is important that you use the trade show as an opportunity to meet people from complementary businesses, to meet and chat with those working within the industry and, as is often the case, to gain ideas from completely different companies. Use the time wisely and a trade show can be a great asset to your business.