Ah, the good intentions of New Year Resolutions! People resolve to start doing things that they know they should be doing, but don’t, either because they’re too difficult or dull. Well, there are some essential trade show activities that fall into those categories!
Trade Show Marketer’s New Year Resolution #1: Follow Up On Your Leads
The first and foremost resolution you can make is to simply follow up on your leads. Following up on leads is almost like flossing your teeth or doing maintenance on your house: you know you need to do it, but are still reluctant. Following up on the leads gets overshadowed by all the other parts of your job that were neglected while you concentrated on organizing and going to the show.
Trade Show Marketer’s New Year Resolution #2: Measure Your Results
Measuring your trade show results is another worthwhile activity to choose as a New Year’s resolution. Measuring your trade show results can be complicated when you have a long sales cycle, have multiple lead sources to allocate credit for any sales to, or you can’t easily get access to the data you need. So it is both difficult and (compared to exhibit design and creating cool pre-show and at-show promotions) kind of dull. Yet without demonstrable results, your entire trade show program is in jeopardy.
Trade Show Marketer’s New Year Resolution #3: Update Your Trade Show Exhibit Graphics
With so many logistics to take care of, it’s easy to put much of our trade show program on autopilot and avoid the grief of getting new exhibit graphics. Yet, over time your marketing messages changes. Is the message on your trade show displays still relevant to the message that you’re using in your other marketing programs? What message is currently on your website, direct mail, print ads, and your blog? When all your messages reinforce each other, you are much more likely to be remembered. And when you exhibit at trade shows that serve different vertical market industries, do you take the time to adapt your graphics to better appeal to the different audiences?
How do you make resolutions stick?
These three are worthwhile trade show New Year’s resolutions. Yet, like all resolutions, they are easy to start, yet much harder to maintain. How do we maintain them?
“One challenge with New Year’s resolutions is that people often set unrealistic goals. They can quickly become frustrated and give up,” says Dr. Linda Nebeling, an expert in behavioral change and nutrition at NIH. “Any resolution to change needs to include small goals that are definable and accompanied by a solid plan on how you’ll get to that goal.”
Here are some ideas to make your resolutions stick:
Make it achievable
This list has only 3 resolutions, not 30, so it’s more achievable. You can even just pick one resolution from this list that matters most. And achieve what you can within your control – for example, if you don’t manage the sales force and can’t get them to cooperate, you can follow up directly with the trade show leads you generated to see if they met with your team or if they bought from you.
Break your bigger goal into smaller activities
For example, if the idea of measuring your results fills you with dread at the size of the task, then break it down into smaller activities. Make a schedule. Plan a step for each month, and give yourself a reward for each small step. So for the first month you outline each step needed to measure your results. The second month, get the list of all the leads into one place, be it a spreadsheet or a database. And so on. Then give yourself rewards for completing each step along the way.
Focus on the benefits
When we focus on the obstacles, we give problems more weight than they deserve. Put more energy into ways around obstacles, and especially on the benefits you’ll get when you achieve your new goals. Adopt and continue with these three trade show New Year’s resolutions, and you’ll generate more leads, more sales, enhance your company brand, and make yourself more valuable to your company. Keep these benefits in mind and the obstacles will look smaller.
Make yourself accountable
It’s harder to shirk from your New Year’s resolution when you’ve told someone else. “I tell my clients to have a trade show team and hold each other accountable, just like you have a workout buddy,” said Michael Flavin, account executive, Skyline St. Louis. Tell your boss you want to do this as part of your job improvement. Then your boss will hold you accountable. Even writing down your resolutions makes them more real.
It takes time to build a new habit. Give yourself time to turn wishes into actions into habits. I hope this will be a happy new year for you!
This blog post was sparked by Michael Flavin, account executive at Skyline Exhibits in St. Louis, who interviewed me about trade show New Year’s resolutions for his blog.
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