Make the Most of Trade Shows: Tips for the Printing Industry

There are few events that match the networking power of trade shows; under one roof, you’ve got industry experts, fans of products, and media professionals gathering to share their enthusiasm over a single topic. Trade shows take place every year and encompass a wide variety of topics such as collectibles, virtual reality, comic artists, education, computer software, high-performance vehicles, and more. The printing industry has also made a mark on trade shows, and print shop owners go to trade shows often. But with its wide, all-encompassing space, the labyrinth of booths, and the large crowds, the trade show can become difficult to navigate. So, how can printing professionals make the most of trade shows? Whether you’re standing at a booth or roaming the floor, here are some tips to get the most out of an action-packed event. 

Check the Website for the Schedule 

Even if you spend an entire day at the trade show, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to visit every single booth or attend every single speaker panel. Panels have limited seating and are spread out across limited time slots. With that in mind, there are certain speakers and industry representatives that are more popular and well-known for their expertise than others; you can bet that their conference room will be packed and that there will be a line outside the door even before the panel starts. By knowing the guest speakers, the time, and the location of where the panel will be taking place, you will increase your chance of being able to sit in on it. 

For example, if the panel with your favorite guest speaker is held in room #293, you’d want to figure out exactly where that room is and how long the panel will run. If the panel starts at 10 a.m., you’d probably want to show up earlier in case there is a line of other hopeful attendees. 

Some additional resources, such as the schedule of events, list of guest speakers, and the map of all the booths, are available as well. These can usually be printed ahead of time, or the info can simply be jotted down into a notepad. Knowing all these details in advance helps you be extra prepared so you can see the booths and panels you want to — even if it’s not all of them. 

Dress the Part for the Trade Show

Trade show crowds have a large mix of people, and at first glance, it’s hard to tell whether someone is from the industry, the media, or just a fan of a given product wanting to take their hobby to the next level. 

As a print shop owner and a representative of the printing industry, you may want to differentiate yourself by dressing professionally. Additionally, you can wear an ID badge or a branded shirt that clearly displays your company’s logo. With all the activities and conversations occurring simultaneously, it may be difficult to get the word out on who you are and what you’re selling. Wearing the right attire is likely to catch the attention of others so that they approach you. For example, someone who is familiar with or a fan of your product may recognize the logo on your shirt and start asking you questions. 

If you plan on attending many booths and panels, wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Depending on the given trade show, the venue can be quite large, and panels may be scattered across a wide space. You may also have to stand for many hours. Wearing comfortable shoes makes attending a lot easier and it’s a simple step that you can implement before you even head out the door.

Carry a Brochure or Samples of Your Own

If you have the additional resources for it, you can hand out samples of your own; you don’t need your own designated booth to do this. If you have sample-size products handy, you can carry them in a large bag. For instance, you can hand out ink cartridges or even branded products such as pens with the logo of your printing company. These are steps you can take to increase brand awareness of your printing company while you’re out there on the floor. 

If you don’t have the budget for handing out samples, another way to showcase your products and reach potential customers is to hand out brochures, pamphlets, and miniature booklets that feature your products. Have a handout that displays images of banner signs, household items, toys, and any other products that have used your ink for printing. There are many services available online for the printing of these types of booklets which can be mass produced. 

Keep Networking at the Forefront 

Trade shows provide many networking opportunities, but you may be competing with other professionals who want to network too. If someone has never heard of your company or your product, it may be easy for them to forget the value of the business you provide, even after a conversation with you. Or, when booths are especially crowded, it may be hard to even get a conversation in at all. 

Business cards are an easy solution to missed conversations and forgetful memories. All it takes is handing your card to them, and they’ll know and remember who you are. Bring your business cards with you because you never know who may become a future client, or even a future business partner. It can happen while you’re waiting in line for a panel, taking a lunch break, or riding the elevator. Meeting an all-important contact can happen anywhere. With your business card handy, you won’t even need a 30-second elevator pitch. 
Speaking of business cards, receiving business cards is just as important as handing them out. Speakers and booth representatives meet anywhere from 50-100 people at a single event; it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Ask for their business card, and after the event is over, follow-up with them via email. Emails are a great opportunity to build a professional relationship, but you won’t be able to do that unless you get their contact information first. Interested in finding out how you can further your printing business aside from trade shows? You can contact us here!

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