Trade shows are essential for companies in the renewable energy industry. Successful performance at in-person can lead to sales deals, long-term partnerships, and increasing brand visibility. As we reflect our journey and beginnings as a tech start-up, we want to share some lessons to the newcomers of the industry to pave the way for even more exciting solar initiatives.

Having participated in dozens of events in 2022, Volha Vziatkina, Marketing Events Coordinator, and Rimvydas Trainavicius, Creative & Digital Lead at PVcase, share their insights on how to get a spotlight on solar energy trade shows.

Post-covid event landscape

2022 was the first year we finally broke free from the pandemic constraints. However, the beginning of 2022 was still quite uncertain, with tendencies challenging to understand. Moreover, Covid restrictions were still in place, so traveling was complicated. However, Intersolar Europe in May was the first sign that things changed.

Volha Vziatkina remembers these warm post-covid moments: “You felt like being in a group of friends that missed each other. It wasn’t only a huge success in terms of event organization for the whole industry, but it was also an opportunity for people to meet each other. It was this friendly vibe of everyone hugging each other and coming over to booths to chat offline. At RE+, similar feelings were in the air.”

Rimvydas Trainavicius also elaborates on the increased importance of live contact: “Everyone wants to meet a real person, not just someone they see on the computer screen. There’s been a lot of fatigue from digital communication over the past years. We also found that face-to-face communication can give that last nudge toward new business. And then team-wise – going to trade shows works as an excellent team-building exercise.”

Tips for success

2022 also taught us a lot and made us learn new things and implement changes. While globe-trotting and attending various shows, Rimvydas and Volha have identified a few essential tips each future participant should follow.

Be consistent

Participation without proper plan and research might not be as rewarding. Rimvydas says: “No matter how big your budget might be, the most important thing is to do your research, choose the best fitting shows for your company and start going there regularly. Most of them operate on loyalty principle.”

The more years in a row you go there, the more loyalty points you get. It means you can get better booth locations and other perks. Consistency is the key here. If you skip one year, you might need to start from scratch to get those loyalty perks again.

Preparation is the key

Volha stresses the importance of preparation: “I remember how I prepared my first guide for PVcase team traveling to a trade show. It was funny because I started with a quote by Benjamin Franklin — “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

So, when it comes to trade shows, preparation is the secret. You must consider all the factors, including booth construction, communication with organizers, getting the best space, and the participants. The more prepared you are, the better the results and visibility you get. This means you are more likely to have more sales.

Proper training of your crew is equally crucial. Rimvydas says, “Preparation and training of your team are extremely important. A lot of times on the show floor you can clearly see which company prepared the team for the show and which didn’t.”

Meet and greet your audience

It’s not correct to assume that people will understand what you do just by looking at your logo or seeing screens with screenshots or videos of your products. You should always go the extra mile to explain things to your audience and make yourself accessible.

Rimvydas also elaborates on PVcase techniques: “We use a particular strategy on how we operate on the show floor. Certain people stay inside the booth doing demos, while others approach and talk to people passing by. The important part – everyone has their own role in it.”

Branded merch always helps

Nice merch is a game-changer! It always works to attract attention because people usually like free stuff. Volha remembers the successful PVcase example: “Our socks were best sellers everywhere. When we put socks on the counter, there’s a line of people queuing for them.”

Do your research

2022 was particularly intense when it came to events. So, knowing where to participate is essential. Proper research will help you end up in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, if you don’t do the homework, you can end up in a C-level event with three sales representatives. They could be extremely good at selling, but they still are wrong people for the event. Failing to do the research definitely results in failing to succeed.

Volha and Rimvydas identify a few key points to take into account:

– Consider the number of people that participated in the show last year.
– Evaluate the number of exhibitors and analyze their profiles.
– Try to determine the average portrait of a visitor and an exhibitor. This aspect is essential because each show has its target groups and audiences.
– Consider what products you are going to sell and whether they apply to the market or a specific event. For example, you can’t expect a lot of success promoting a ground mount product in a market dominated by rooftop solar.

Relying on market insiders

“Our team is growing, and hiring people in local markets also became a game changer because no one will tell you more about the Indian market than a person working there. No matter how much time you spend on Google or going to trade shows — only a person working with a specific market can help you succeed there,” says Volha.

Moreover, in specific markets, you really need people speaking the native language. Rimvydas elaborates on this: “You can’t just assume that everyone will speak English. That’s one of the lessons we learnt last year. You need to invest in human resources to reach certain markets. I remember people coming back from the event in Brazil were saying that if you don’t speak Portuguese, there’s no reason for you to be there because 90% of people speak Portuguese, or Spanish at best, but not English.”

We hope this year will be eventful for you and that these tips will help you drive your company further and achieve better results. See you on the show floors!