Solar trade shows are great opportunities to get your solar company's name out there--you can network with industry leaders, pitch to potential customers, and build relationships with your existing clients. Trade shows can often be the best way to introduce a new solar product to the market, build your brand, and prove your place as a contender in the solar industry.
Not sure where to start? Here's 5 tips for making the most of your next solar trade show.
There are hundreds of shows you could attend--some organized by solar industry heavy-hitters like SEIA, some smaller and regional, and some only tangentially related to solar (think home and garden shows). You could book up your whole calendar for a year if you went to every show out there! The key to solar trade show success is being selective: choose just a few shows where you can maximize your impact. Consider going to a show in a region where you want to expand your presence, or one that will help you grow your business (it might make more sense to go to a green building conference to tap into a new customer market rather than keep on displaying at your regional solar show year after year).
There's no one-size-fits-all way of approaching a trade show, so you need to determine what works for you. If you're going to exhibit, find a way to stand out in the crowd, with a cool booth display, an in-booth event, or fun schwag that will entice people to stop by. If you're attending a show for the first time, consider just walking it--you'll be able to cover more show floor territory if you're not tied to a booth, and you can scope out the event to determine if it's worth the investment in a booth for the next year. Whatever you do, make sure you've planned it out and can execute it well: trade shows are full of industry veterans, and you want to make sure that you and your company are well-represented.
Take some time to get your ducks in a row before heading out. Planning in advance can yield discounts on conference rates, and can help you make sure your hotel room is close to the conference center so you can spend less time traveling back and forth between the two locations, and more time networking with other attendees.
If you're exhibiting, spend some time consulting the floor map before selecting a booth location. You want to make sure you get lots of traffic, and are in a visible location (as close to the main entrance as possible is best, but scoping out space near poster presentations or other landmarks can help ensure that people will be walking by). Think about who your booth neighbors will be--consider competitors, as well as booths that might be big, flashy, and potentially distracting. Also, make sure to keep a calendar of show deadlines handy--you don't want to incur fees because you forgot to order booth carpeting, or realize at the last minute that your shipment won't arrive in time for show setup.
What are you hoping to get out of the trade show? Widespread brand exposure, or a smaller number of very qualified leads? Do you want to meet as many new people as possible, or have face-to-face conversations with existing customers and leads you're currently working on? It's important to determine your goals going in--if you're simply hoping to build relationships, tracking every person who visits the booth (qualified or not) might not be the best way of measuring your success.
Promote your presence
Whether you're exhibiting or not, let people know you'll be at the show! Build out your exhibitor profile with logos, company and product descriptions, and photos. Research event hashtags, and make sure to post in the weeks and days leading up the trade show using them (and tagging the event page) to get the word out. Join any groups that might be holding event discussions (like the SEIA Linkedin group) to make sure you're in the loop. Reach out to press to encourage them to come by your booth, or to meet up with you for coffee during the day (and be sure to have a press release or media kit ready). Send out e-blasts to your contacts to see if anyone you know is going--and make plans to meet up with those who are. Those meetings could lead to an introduction with your next big customer!
Now that you've got the basic steps for making sure your next solar trade show is a hit, it's time to find a show to test out your new knowledge on. Check out the AllEarth Events page for a list of the solar trade shows our team will be heading to next.