Trade shows can be incredibly effective, but they can also be a complete waste of time and money. Your potential for success at a trade show depends a great deal on your advance preparation. To maximize your participation consider the following before you’re off and running to the only trade association dedicated solely to improving the proficiency of the independent material handling equipment distributor, MHEDA (Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association). MHEDA represents all segments of the material handling industry and offers industry specific business training and resources to help maintain and strengthen your company.
Before the MHEDA trade show:
- Evaluate and Select. Participating in trade shows can require a major investment of time, money, and resources. Be tough in your evaluation of a show's worthiness by profiling the MHEDA exhibitors to be sure it's worth your time to attend. You want to choose trade shows that best target the audience that you want to reach and best suit your participation goals.
- Pre-Register. Avoid the confusion and long lines at the MHEDA show by pre-registering for your name badge. Also, now is the time to plan to bring any employees who would greatly benefit from attending the trade show. Attend seminars and workshops if available, these educational presentations are why you're going.
- Book Hotel. Try to book a hotel very close to the trade show. Check to see if the MHEDA trade show organizers have reserved rooms at a discount. Make reservations for transportation and lodging early on.
- Research MHEDA Exhibitors. Pick out the top 10-20 exhibitors you know buy your product or service. Research their websites, social media presence, Google map their location (some businesses look bigger in their perception than they are in reality). Try to narrow the list down to the top 10-15.
- Gather Marketing Materials. Put together marketing collateral to have on hand at the trade show, bring more than you intend on handing out. Remember to include: timely information, a one-page company biography, a corporate structure chart, sales figures, complete product information (specs, distribution methods, pricing), photos, and key contact info. Don't forget to bring plenty of your own business cards!
- Practice Pitch. Decide how you'll pitch your product to MHEDA exhibitors and attendees. Practice your pitch and your presentation of the marketing package until it comes naturally and doesn't sound like a pitch.
- Set Goals. Ask yourself what you want to get out of it. Do you expect to sell, learn, brand, or launch? Have set goals of what you'd like to accomplish such as; a number of vendors to visit, increased visibility, gaining exposure, purchasing, attending seminars, new product discovery, or specific contacts you'd like to acquire in the Material Handling industry. You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in trade shows is going to achieve. Set your objectives (i.e.10 new orders, 50 contacts, 25 qualified leads, three articles in trade journals, etc.) and track your results.
- Know your Company's Needs. Know your inventory needs before the show. More efficient purchasing will save you money by grouping your orders to take advantage of discounts and special offers, as well as keeping you within budget.
- Put the word out! Get the word out that you're participating in a particular trade show by inviting your colleagues, clients, customers, and suppliers. Be sure you include all the details and a link to the registration page. Be sure to create buzz about your coming trade show attendance on your; website, Twitter, LinkedIn, facebook, blog, and email newsletters.
- Pack. Pick out professional, but very comfortable attire, as you will be on your feet for 2-6 hours, depending on how many exhibitors you plan to see. Allow enough room in your suitcase for bringing back more than you take. This includes literature, freebies, and product samples. Some MHEDA exhibitors provide bags, but come prepared by bringing a comfortable carryall for all that literature.
These are just some objectives you can strive for in order to stay connected to the Material Handling industry. Follow these 10 tips for maximizing your time at the MHEDA trade show, and you'll be confident in knowing that the time you spend at the MHEDA show is worthwhile.
Valley Box is a San Diego based industrial packaging company. We create custom material handling solutions which are perfect for assembly lines, warehouses, distribution centers, stock rooms and anywhere else that moving loads is required. Visit the Material Handling section of Valley Box's website.