So, you’re ready to enter your first trade show! It is pretty simple right? Register your booth space, grab a booth, set up on show day, stand for 2 days and voila! You have business, right? No.
If you or your company have decided to exhibit at a trade show, there are 5 top things to consider and act on in order to make it the success you would like. Of course there is a lot that goes into being ready for your trade show, but these tips will prepare you to make your investment worthwhile.
1. Decide What You Will Put in Your Booth Space
Whether you have a 10 x 10 space or a 40 x 50 space, please do not leave this decision until the last minute. Work with marketing staff and decision makers and decide what would work best to support your brand in the booth space you have rented. See if you can ask the show what companies are beside you, behind you, and in front of you. Your booth is your brand and you have the power for your booth to be whatever it is you want it to be. Pick a booth partner and set up a meeting to open up the discussion of what your company needs to stand out at your show. What are your objectives for being at the show and how best can you represent those objectives and your brand?
2. Choose the Right Marketing Materials
What marketing materials will best support your booth objectives? Marketing dollars are very commonly spent on the same materials over and over again, whether at a show, at the office or at client meetings. But are they working? Discuss with your team what the main message of your show is. Are you introducing a new product, do you want prospects to get on your email list? Whatever it is, gear your marketing materials to the message you are trying to achieve. For example, if one of your objectives is to get your newsletter out there, have your booth staffers carry iPads to encourage attendees to sign up on the spot. Attendees appreciate the convenience to sign up at the show, and the iPads are a great technology to incorporate in your booth.
3. Pre-Market your Show
Once you have reserved your booth space, now it is your responsibility to promote your attendance at the show. Exhibiting at a show is a big financial investment. Let prospects know you will be there and what you have to offer. Have your show and booth number on all of your communication tools. If you were in the show previous years, share your experience from last year and why your prospects and current clients should make an effort to see you this year. Take this opportunity to reach out to current clients and set up at-show meetings. Pre-show marketing is a big ticket to your show success. You can’t expect attendees to line up to visit your exhibit if you haven’t promoted anything or made it known that you’re going to be there. Clients like to be invited somewhere and appreciate the time you take with them just to check in. Take advantage of this time and reach out to as many clients and prospects as you can.
4. Train Your Booth Staff
Do not assume the staff being sent to run your booth knows what they are doing. Are they familiar with your objectives? Do they know the new product or service that you are showcasing or debuting? Your booth staffers need to know what your company hopes to accomplish and what your attendees are expecting if you want a successful show. If you sent out a pre-show promotion and a client brings in a coupon, does your booth staff know what it is for? Pick a booth captain at least 3 months prior to the show and make sure that adequate staff training occurs. Your chosen booth captain should be able to convey what is expected, what makes a good staffer, how to have the right conversation, how to listen to an attendee, and what the appropriate etiquette looks like. Make sure you schedule staggered breaks for your staffers and keep them accountable for time. Your attendees and clients will get a lot more out of their show experience when dealing with cooperative and well-trained staff.
5. Don’t Forget About Post-Show Marketing and Follow Up
Just because the show is over, it doesn’t mean your work is over. Your post-show marketing and following up on all of the leads you took are the most important things to ensure a successful show and hit that ROI goal. Post-show marketing and follow up allow you to stand out from your competitors. In your booth staff meetings you should have talked about how to follow up on leads and have a system set up to review. Each prospect should have a call between 24-48 hrs after the show ends. It is imperative you adhere to this timeline! You need to reach your prospects when you are fresh in their mind. Don’t drop the ball.
Follow these above 5 tips to put you on the track for trade show exhibiting success. Above all though, have a super show and don’t forget the number one rule: have fun.
Read the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results white paper to equip your booth staff with all they need to know about staffing for a successful show. Click here for your free copy.