Successful trade show programs do not happen by accident. You will look like a company superstar by taking the extra steps to achieve outstanding results. Abundant online resources are available to help measure your return on investment set an appropriate budget and develop appropriate timelines.
COMMUNICATE COMPANY GOALS
Set goals for your booth staff and get them involved on how best to interact with attendees. Strategy sessions prior to the show allow staffers to think about the importance of their interaction at the exhibit hall. If you are taking people who are more technical in nature provide clear instruction on how you intend to use their expertise. Guide them to offer relevant solutions and personal anecdotes about how your business has successfully worked in the past. Ask them to develop a vision statement about where you are headed. In vertical markets stress to your staff that lead quality, is more important than lead quantity.
CREATE A VISIBLE SCHEDULE
Everyone in your exhibit should be engaged while at the show. It’s tempting to spend the evening hitting the hosted receptions and engage in late fun but set the expectation that everyone needs to be at the booth on their A-game when they are scheduled. Allow for some flexibility about who is to be in the booth when. Also, make sure to communicate to your staffers that they are uniquely qualified and very important to the success of the show. Encourage a team atmosphere that includes their manager’s buy in to provide guidance about their responsibility to engage attendees.
DETERMINE WHAT INFORMATION TO CAPTURE AND HOW
Your sales manager will appreciate you asking for their feedback on what type of information is most helpful for the sales team. Even though leads are digitally captured, sales people appreciate notes on a conversation or specifics about a prospect’s needs. Consider keeping in contact with your sales manager and providing lead information while you are at the show. Sending follow-up information immediately shows that you are responsive and engaged. It may spur the attendee to stop by your booth again for a second look. Sales managers will appreciate the extra time to research a company or a prospect during the show. These days electronic lead applications are widely used to capture data. You can rent one from the show or download it from one of the many options available online.
PLAN FOR LEAD FOLLOW UP
Adjust your mindset from “when the show is over the work is done” to “the show is over, but the real work is just beginning.” Leads must be assigned, qualified, tied back to the event, followed up on and placed into your sales cycle. This is vital to be able to calculate your ROI and set an estimated budget for next year. It will allow you information to make informed decision about your company’s participation at next year’s show.
DEFEND YOUR BUDGET
Smart trade show managers are prepared to defend the money allocated to their trade show programs. They understand overall market spending increases and don’t expect to do more with less money. Many costs, (shipping, drayage, travel, I&D) must be estimated months prior to the event and costs can vary based on a whole host of factors. Underestimating these costs is a mistake and makes your shows look too costly.
Regardless of what goals you set, make sure to track your progress and review your results after the show to see if you achieved your objectives. A post show meeting is a great time to determine what worked and what didn’t so you can use that information for your next show!
By: Avalon Hartman – September 28, 2017