Trade show marketing is certainly an investment.
From the cost of securing a space on the trade show floor, to the trade show display itself, there are a lot of items on your list to plan for in order to have a successful show. But those are not the only investments you need to consider.
Below are things that you should think about to maximize your trade show marketing investment.
Set Plan For Pre-Show, At-Show and Post-Show Activity
Establishing a breakdown of activities in each segment of the trade show marketing process is critical to track effectiveness and ROI of the work done. This should include everything from creating social media buzz, at-show presentations to who is following up with the leads generated at the show, email marketing, etc.
Having all of these action items laid out, along with your budget for the trade show, will help you maximize your trade show investment. The better the plan, the better the odds are to turn those visitors into customers.
Pre-show marketing is a part of a successful trade show campaign. Never assume customers or prospects that are attending the trade show you’re marketing at will simply “stop on by.” You must implement that pre-show marketing plan well in advance. From your activity in building buzz via social media, the information you add to your website about the upcoming trade show, to the personalized emails and even letters (going old school is really effective in this digital age) to invite current customers and attract prospects to your booth.
Even including a special incentive: exclusive grand prize raffle for visitors, get a VIP happy hour wristband for an after the trade show get together, etc. Incentives will add to your budget, but can provide you with the opportunity to deepen the connection with customers and prospects that can yield long term customers.
On the trade show floor it can be a little overwhelming visually. Your company needs to stand apart from the other businesses next to you and even down the aisle. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the average visitor to a trade show booth is 5-15 minutes. That’s not much time to make a lasting impression or to close a sale before the person walks down to your competitor’s booth a couple minutes later.
Having a high impact trade show display can draw people in. Don’t buy some cheap used display or go the DIY route to save a few bucks. Having professional booth exhibit and design assistance goes a long ways in having a trade show booth that attracts attention. Adding iPad kiosks, video displays and even interactive touch screens can keep visitors in your exhibit space longer giving your sales team more time to develop a relationship with them. Don’t forget lead generation tools like scheduled demonstrations, contests, raffle/drawings that require registration keep people coming to your booth.
Have One-on-One Space in Your Booth
Having a space away from the busy trade show floor dedicated to having some privacy is important. For example, some companies have utilized a double-decker trade show display that has a 2nd floor where the sales team can meet with people who’ve set up appointments or for those moments where sales are finalized.
Picking names out of a hat or just choosing whoever is available should never be the way to decide who is going to represent your company at the trade show. Those people are the face of company. Seriously consider who you want to fulfill that role for you.
Choose people who are outgoing (like to smile, great conversation starters) and are going to know “how to work a booth”. They are engaging visitors, capturing contact information, asking the right questions to know if they are just there for the free prizes, are a potential customer or are ready to buy. Thoroughly knowing your product/services is not enough on the trade show floor. Make you are training up and staffing your booth with the right people.
Don’t Hide In Your Booth
Speaking at trade shows and conferences can add a whole other level of trust and credibility for you and your company. It can also lead to even more sales! Most trade shows and many conferences are in need of great public speakers who can provide value to their attendees. Got something to say?
Being a speaker helps you and your company stand out from the competition. Whether you are a featured speaker, hosting a lunch roundtable, or participating in a panel of speakers, your presence is increasing your company’s profile and visibility.
Limit Marketing Collateral
Less is more! Especially at a trade show where EVERYONE is being given a lot of paper products. Don’t be that company that spends thousands of dollars on brochures, sales sheets or pamphlets that will likely never leave their bag or odds are that it’ll end up in the garbage can. Focus on one or two key pieces of information in exchange for their contact info to send a personalized information kit after the show.
Unique Trade Show Giveaway
Don’t invest money in pens or key chains. There are far better options out there if you think creatively. If you have “upgraded” giveaway items, you can offer them in exchange to those who fill out your questionnaires. If you still plan to give away cheaper items, water bottles (that are BPA free) are a great option.
Leave Your Booth
See what the competition is doing with their booth and at their displays. Being able to see what’s capturing people’s attention can be an idea generator on ways to improve your own exhibit experience for attendees. Learn as much as you can. Talk to people and pick up their marketing collateral.
Part of your planning before the show was putting together a strategy for following up with your leads from the trade show. Hopefully, you planned out who is going to “get in touch” and do the follow-up. Post-show marketing is a smart way to way to extend the life of your exhibit.
Ensuring that you have staff and a process established to take action on following up with everyone immediately after the trade show instead of letting the connection go cold without follow up for weeks or months. Making follow up a priority can pay off and cover the trade show investment with increased lead conversion and sales.
Incorporating these ten tactics into how you trade show market your business will give you the best chance to generate more sales and visibility for your business.
Trade Show Photo via Shutterstock