With more things moving online on a seemingly hourly basis these days, you might be forgiven that thinking — if you’ve just recently started up your own company — that you can afford to completely forget about all forms of in-person marketing and promotion altogether and simply focus on things like SEO and PPC.
While this may be the case for particular people operating in particular industries, it’s not generally advisable for the average entrepreneur, however. Unless your business is solely web-based and involves absolutely no form of client interaction beyond cursory emails, you can expect that you’re missing out on a lot of tricks by not engaging in face time with prospects.
Often one of the best ways of making waves in your industry, finding new clients and allies and just figuring out the lay of the land in a meaningful manner is to get down to some in-personal networking events such as trade fairs or conventions.
Of course, in the event that you do make it down to one of these fairs or conventions, it may well be the case that you’re not sure of how to go about successfully advertising your business in this neglected environment. Here are some tips to get you started:
Have some fun and be conversational
Any good marketing guide will explain the importance of clear and focused conversation, but you’d be committing a pretty grave error if you turned up at your event with a whole list of robotic-formulated and memorized scripts at hand, with the intention of reciting them to anyone who expresses interest in your business.
The thing is people in general really like authenticity in business as in life, are usually thrilled to find someone who has a compelling and interesting business and is actually able to discuss it like a human being rather than a Marek Tatra 2500.
Approach your in-person networking event with the aim in mind of having some fun and being conversational. Don’t think about the purpose of the event as ultimately being to put the hard sell on everyone and leave with a certain target of new LinkedIn connections. Instead, aim to have a good time and have some interesting talks, not to mention to learn something yourself.
Get your graphics and marketing designs nailed down
If you’re going to be seated at a stall in a large hall, for example, you’re not likely to succeed in attracting many people’s attention by, for example, calling out like someone at a farmer’s market with a dozen eggs to sell: “Great SEO here, get your SEO here! Special price today, 2 for 1 on SEO!”
Instead, you’ll want to entice people to stop at your stall of their own accord and engage you in conversation. At the very least, you’ll want them to stand in front of the stall for a moment as they inspect your leaflets, or graphic presentations, so that you can take advantage of the opportunity to proactively engage them in conversation.
Of course, if this is actually going to happen, you’ll need to have spent some time and done some work in advance coming up with an attention-grabbing and effective tradeshow booth design, not to mention any other visual elements that might work out in your favor such as PowerPoint presentations of 3D mock-ups of products or facilities.
Get the key points you’d like to communicate clear in advance
As mentioned above, you don’t want to turn up on the day like a robot, with a completely formulaic script in mind. That’s not likely to make a positive impression on many people, by any means.
That being said, however, you should still distill the key points that you’d like to communicate, and get clear on them, at least in your own mind, so that you can avoid falling over your own words, or looking unprofessional while being unable to effectively communicate the function of your business in a concise manner.
This is the kind of exercise you should do, on your own, in advance. It doesn’t have to be very complex. Just have some mock discussions with yourself in the mirror and figure it out.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t crack it on the first try, practice makes perfect
“Practice makes perfect”, as the saying goes, and this is just as true when it comes to in-person marketing as anything else.
You may well attend your first trade fair, meetup, or show, and find that you’re too nervous or caught off guard to really get the most out of the day.
That’s not the end of the world, though. The experience has been valuable practice and can contribute significantly to your charisma and success next time. Just don’t quit after one go.