Tradeshows are expensive and exhausting. But if you get creative with your limited budget -- plus stay standing and smiling for almost 48 hours straight -- you’ll reap the rewards, according to Yes To Founders Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish.
Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss recently hosted a guest post on his blog from Leffler and Kalish about the art of dominating tradeshows. Their company, Yes To, creates natural skin and hair care products, which are sold in 28,00 stores worldwide. Tradeshows, they insist, were a powerful part of Yes To’s growth.
In the lengthy post, the two describe their experience with tradeshows from the start -- beginning with their first booth built with a modest budget -- all the way up to their Taj Mahal-type booth that was 10 feet above regulation size. Among the anecdotes are some great lessons you can use if you’re looking to turn some heads at the next show.
1. Look like the company you will be . “There is a certain expectation that your booth and your presentation will reflect the reality of your business’s size and market share,” Leffler said. But why should it? “Our booth reflected the company we planned to be in a few years, not the company we were at that moment,” he said.
For Yes To’s over-the-top, so-called Taj Mahal booth, Leffler and Kalish found a Hungarian company to build the structure for a fourth of what another company quoted them for.
2. Your visitors want two, and only two, things. Entertainment and free stuff. If you can make them laugh and send them home with something of your company’s, there’s a chance that they’ll remember you. Even better, if you can afford it, give them the best tote bag at the show, and they’ll be your walking advertisement.
3. Don’t miss the chance to talk to whales. Before the show, do your research and identify “whales,” or the most important people you’ll want to talk to while you’re there. Fill your team in beforehand, and make sure they know to get your attention if any whales show up.
“Trade shows are full of perfectly charming people who are lots of fun but essentially irrelevant to your business. If you are talking to one of these people, and you miss your chance to talk to the whale, then you are in trouble,” Kalish said.
4. The real work begins after the tradeshow. After each meeting, write the key details down: name, contact information, and any personal details you can recall -- for instance where his or her son goes to college.
Once you’re back home, send an email to everyone you met with reminding them who you are. “If you have a personal comment that feels appropriate, such as, ‘I hope John’s first day of school went well,’ make it,” Leffler said.