Whether you are a trade show exhibiting apprentice or the white lotus of the trade show scene there are a few things that are critical to your success each and every time you attend a show. It’s easy to get burnt out before the race even starts when exhibiting. Trust me I know from years of personal experience woking in multiple facets of the industry. You have to plan your budget, arrange your travel, lodging accommodations, prepare your pitch, display, presentation, and the list goes on and on and by the time the show opens you’re ready for a vacation. Do not despair, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research states that over 64% of all the heads of marketing agree that B2B exhibition is highly effective for multiple channels of marketing activities. The value of trade show marketing has been proven and all of your hard work will pay off if…if you are as prepared as possible and make the right first impression, then you can be sure to improve your trade show ROI. Let’s check out a few must-do’s for your upcoming trade show.
Have a Marketing Plan
It sounds almost too obvious to put on a list, but it is often overlooked because people just assume they have everything covered, but writing down your plan of attack makes it easier to identify your strengths and weaknesses and see where you need to make adjustments. You need to know what happens before, during, and after the show.
Let your target audience know you’ll be there. Make your current customers and/or prospects aware that you will be at the particular show. Give them a compelling reason to visit your booth and meet with you. Social media announcements, email newsletters and maybe even a good old fashioned phone call are some ways that you can make it known to your audience that you will be exhibiting. New product/service introductions, giveaways, interactive displays, and games provide a reason to stop by your booth. Just remember to make sure that your giveaway or game, etc. falls in line with your company values, goals, and message. On occasion, you may have access to an attendee list. In this case, it could be a good idea to reach out to anyone who appears to be a qualified fit for your product/service. Try to schedule an appointment with them during or around the show. This will greatly improve your trade show ROI because as people come to your booth for appointments, they will be able to experience your product/service firsthand and may help pull in passersby.
Contact the Media
Ask the show organizer for a list of media outlets that are confirmed to be attending the show. Reach out to the press with information and news about your company, products and services, and if possible do a press release. It’s important to remember that a media outlets want to showcase companies that improve the lives of the business community and/or consumers. If your story is impactful and memorable, people will show up to speak with you. Conversely, if it is only self-edifying then most news outlets will pass because that’s not newsworthy, it’s advertisement.
Trade Show ROI Strategy
Recruit your best staff for the booth
You’ve done your pre-show marketing, your booth is designed and in the build process, now consider what you will do during the show. If you’re not prepared for what’s happening on the trade show floor, then all the pre-show marketing and stunning trade show booth display will be worthless. Make sure your best staff members are working the booth and are prepared with branded apparel, advertising materials, giveaway items, demonstrations, and are trained on the in-booth interaction plans and anything they will need to succeed. You only have one chance to capture someones attention, first impressions are key. Your staff will ultimately determine the success of the show.
Become a speaker at the event
Consider signing up to be a speaker at the trade show. By doing so, you set yourself up as an expert which can really help drive qualified prospects to your booth. This aspect of marketing takes time, rarely do event planners allow anyone to speak at their events. To improve your chances, come up with a few different topics about the problems your product/service solves and talk about the ways people can overcome them. Practice your presentations thoroughly, even film them so you can learn from them and provide event planners an example of what you can do for them. Show the audience you are invested in truly helping them solve their problems and that you have a product/service that helps with that very problem. Always recommend they stop by your booth for more individualized advice and privacy.
Attend networking events
Attend the networking and social events planned by the event organizer. Yes, exhibiting at trade shows is exhausting. However, attending the social and networking events that are planned is a great way to connect with prospects and help you maximize the value of face time. Make sure your staff is trained with an ‘elevator pitch’ to be able to quickly engage with prospects. Networking events are the place that deals get made, yes, it takes time, it takes patience, but when it pays off, it will be worth your time.
Optimize Your Booth
The next step is to optimize your booth. If you plan on attracting new visitors and prospects (or even current customers), your booth needs to get noticed. Work with an experienced exhibit design company, it will help you make sure you get noticed and helps you achieve a greater trade show ROI. I cannot stress this enough, you have already spent a ridiculous amount of money on this show, between your booth space , travel expenses and so on, it all starts to add up but you must not skimp on your booth to try and make up for it. If your booth doesn’t make people stop and interact with you then all your other efforts were for not. First, make sure you chose a good booth space–contact show organizers early so you have access to a good booth location. Corner booths and anything facing a main entrance are always prime locations. Next, work with the exhibit design company to determine, build and supply the type of booth that best fits your needs, budget, and space.
Post-Show Follow Up
Finally, post-show follow-up is your last step. You’ve made it – the show is over, your A-team generated qualified leads and your booth design was a huge hit! It isn’t over yet. One of the biggest mistakes made is a lack of follow up on leads. This is one of the best tips to improve trade show ROI.
Follow up promptly
First, it’s a great idea to create and schedule your email follow ups in advance so they are ready to go, try including a photo of your booth to help them remember you. Keep track of the leads generated at specific shows in CRM or marketing automation software. This helps you to track the journey of the buyer from lead to customer and helps you measure success and automatically tracks your ROI.
Prioritize your leads
Second, you’ll have some hot leads that you must contact as soon as you return. You may have some leads that are already tied to opportunities within your CRM. These you will need to contact right away. Others can wait a day or two for reach out, but not really more than that. If you let too much time lapse between the show and your follow up reach out, chances are slim that the lead will turn into a customer.
Create a lead nurturing campaign
Third, you’ll have leads who have not yet converted to a customer. By beginning a lead nurturing campaign, using marketing automation software, you provide them with relevant, timely and exciting information, which will keep your company top of mind when they are ready for your type of product or service.
What to do if you need help
While this article can be helpful for those who have the time and ability to execute an effective trade show marketing plan, there are many companies who are not. Coffee House Industries is equipped to help companies with every facet of trade show marketing and provides the production of the booth, business cards, brochures, apparel, giveaways, and even keynote speaker coaching services. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss your project, we are happy to help you improve your trade show ROI.