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Revolve Nation Meetup September 12, 2012

Trade Show Best Practices and Launching a Website

The Revolve Nation Boston Entrepreneurs Meetup is the largest community of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the city of Boston, offering networking, discussion groups, seminars, business plan hot-seats, and more. We meet every two weeks on Wednesday nights to network, socialize, learn, and promote a thriving community of entrepreneurs.

1. How can I attract qualified leads at a trade show?

Work the attendee list beforehand. If the event offers it, go through the list of attendees and cross reference them on LinkedIn or elsewhere to see if they're in your target market. You can introduce yourself to them in person, or take the first step before the event via email, twitter, etc. Invite them to your booth!

Don't give away freebies for the sake of attracting crowds. Who's gone up to a booth and pretended to be interested in the vendor just to get a Snickers and a tote bag? Everyone? That's what I thought.

Unless your industry or strategy demands huge numbers of people, all your food displays will do is attract hungry people, not customers.

Try to find out more about how your customers think, and creatively present yourself so they immediately identify with the problem your product solves. These are your people!

One interesting idea was to offer a freebie of the product itself, but in exchange for the person filling out a survey as a raffle ticket. Now you've got only people who want the actual product (not extra pens), some info from the survey, and a targeted list of names with contact information for follow up. And you didn't spend a dime on fancy giveaways.

Why my booth? If you've ever been to a farmer's market, you've had the option to buy the same thing from many vendors. But you stopped at just a few. Maybe you paused by some before moving on. Why? What would make your customers pause?

2. How do I launch a website properly?

Assuming that I have finished development and the site is ready to go, how can I release it with maximum impact?

Build a list. Try your best to generate buzz beforehand. Start close to home; your existing network of friends, family, and colleagues will visit and probably help promote the site when it's live.

Consider a social media marketing campaign. This may mean creating a twitter account and getting involved with like minded people and thought it leaders. Or a Facebook account. SEO may help, but it's a bit of a specialty.

As always, get inside the head of your target audience. What kinds of things do they like? I've even seen website launch parties at bars!

If you want to hear more or throw in your two cents, join us at Meetup!

You can contact the author here, and follow @revolvethis and @gerritbetz on Twitter.