A trade show takes a significant amount of a company’s marketing budget so it’s important to make the most of the opportunity. The payoff can be higher and quicker than many other marketing channels. Winning at trade shows depends greatly upon the work done in advance.
•Investigate the Show. When you are choosing which trade shows to attend do a little homework. Find out how long the show has been in existence, the past attendance numbers, the number of vendors, and the advertising planned by the show management. If possible, talk with other companies who have participated in the past and get their reviews.
•Picking the Booth Space. Ask early for a floor plan so you can see which booths are available along the center of the show floor. You can have the best displays and products in the world, but if you are tucked away in a corner you may become the show’s best kept secret. Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your space; the best locations will go quickly.
•Advance Marketing. Take advantage of advertising opportunities offered by the show management, but don’t leave all of the advertising up to them. Make certain you let all customers & prospects know of your plans to exhibit at the show by pre-show marketing. A drip campaign is often successful, using several channels, such as e-mail, direct mail, personal invites from sales staff & more.
•Get the Attendee List. Most shows provide an advance list of registered attendees for the show. Cross-check the list with your own database to find which customers are attending. Then segment the list by company size, geographic location or assigned sales rep. Use the list in your pre-show marketing efforts to drive booth traffic.
•Strategically Plan Your Exhibit. Don’t try to cram every product detail on your trade show booth graphics – your brochures should contain all of that information. Any trade show exhibit should quickly tell a prospective customer 1.) who you are, 2.) what you do and 3.) how you can help them. Consider what needs to happen in the space to meet & exceed your trade show goals. For more ideas on designing a trade show exhibit, check out my blog posts on “What Transforms a Trade Show Exhibit into an Experience” and “How to Get the Most Value from Your Trade Show Display Purchase”.
•Use Technology to Enhance Your Presentation. Light, motion and color attract attention, so use this to your benefit. Depending on your product or service, you may want to include interactive presentations, videos or live demonstrations in your trade show exhibit. The more involved your visitors are, the more likely they will be to remember you later.
•Collect Information. Have a system in place to get the names and email addresses of all your guests and follow up with every guest after the event. There are many technologies available which collect more information than a traditional badge scanner. At least get a clipboard to handwrite notes!
•Follow-thru! When the show ends, your marketing campaign isn’t over. 79% of leads generated at trade shows are not followed up afterwards (ceir.org) — what a waste! Follow-through by continuing the marketing campaign and ensure that sales reps keep in contact with prospects they’ve met at the show.
By: Michael Flavin