Attending trade shows can be an effective way to drum up business and learn what your competitors are doing. A lot is usually going on at these shows: meeting prospective customers, attending exhibitions and studying new products. A trade-show report helps to keep your thoughts in order about what you have seen and experienced while your impression is fresh.
List the location and date of the trade show at the beginning of a report. Make a statement summarizing the particular industry the show targeted, such as automotive or food service -- especially if the product or service you provide can be used in multiple industries -- and note the number and types of exhibitors and attendees.
A detailed description of how you arranged your exhibition table can be valuable. Describe the displays and the type of pamphlets and product materials you made available to prospective patrons, and note whether attendees responded by coming over to the table. You might want to assess whether this particular display was more effective at grabbing people’s attention than others used at different shows and what you can do to make the displays better.
Assessing the number and quality of leads is important when attending a trade show. This assessment can include whether you saw a preponderance of decision-makers who had the authority to purchase products or services from you or you generally talked to attendees who lacked such authority. You might want to use a grading system when assessing leads -- like putting leads into “hot,” “warm” and “long-term” prospect categories.
Assess your competition at the trade show. Include how well their displays looked, if they attracted prospects, if you've seen the competitors at other shows and if a competitor conducted a workshop and, if so, how well the audience responded. Taking time to compare your efforts to those of your competitors can help you gauge how well you are doing and give you ideas on how to improve your outreach and presentations.
Staffing is critical. A report might include how well the staff members interacted with prospects by answering questions and presenting products. Address whether you need to train staff before they attend future shows and whether staffing levels were adequate to run the booth.
Griffith Pritchard served as a senior branch manager and banking officer for M&T Bank. He specialized in small business and personal financial, credit and banking products. He also has extensive experience in small business sales and non-profit management. Pritchard is a graduate of Hobart College.