Successful trade show exhibiting isn’t something that just happens. The most successful exhibitors have done a lot of legwork before the show to set themselves up for success. These successful exhibitors have developed a process that they follow for every show to help prepare. The actions taken during this time will help prepare you for the experience, and having a strategy to implement your trade show ideas will prevent many headaches.
8 Trade Show Ideas to Implement Now
Set Goals and Objectives. You must set goals for the trade show from the moment you decide to attend. You also need to know your objectives—why are you exhibiting? Your goals will impact the decisions you make before, during and after the event. If your reason for attending is to showcase a new product, make sure A) you bring the product or a prototype with you to the event, and B) you have marketing materials ready to go for the event. This includes updating your website to support the product launch. If your main goal for the show is to collect leads, train booth staff so they know how to engage attendees and what questions should be asked, and develop a system for collecting and following up on leads after the show. You have to be prepared and know what your objectives and goals are before you’re at the show. To help you plan for this, read this article.
Create a Budget. It’s very easy to rush headlong into an event without a budget in place, but you’ll have many other expenses than just your exhibit. In fact, the exhibit itself is traditionally only about one-third of the total cost of exhibiting. Factor in booth costs, travel expenses, show services and giveaways, and possible staff overtime along with the cost of the exhibit to get a decent budget established. Don’t forget to factor in unanticipated expenses. They always seem to arise and it’s better to be prepared than not. A good budget can help make decisions for you. Click here to see the breakdown of a great trade show budget.
Location, Location, Location. It’s important for trade shows and events too. Examine the map of the trade show floor and try to get a location that gets maximum exposure. Pick a spot that gets a lot of walk-by traffic like the ends of aisles, spots near the restrooms, drink or food stations, and doors. We always recommend trying to get a corner spot for your booth so that you get traffic coming in two different directions and are a cross spot for people.
Pre-Event Marketing. You can’t just show up to a trade show and expect that attendees will visit your booth to make it while. Establish a pre-event marketing campaign where you reach out to current customers and prospects a few weeks prior to the show. Let them know the name of the event you’ll be attending and your booth number. Use email, social media, newsletters, direct mail and even a note on your website to spread the word. Include information about what they can find at the booth and give them a reason to stop by. Update your website and social media pages through your planning stages to let visitors know you’re excited about the show and what you’re doing to prepare. Are you having an in-booth contest or offer? Start advertising that on your website or through email and give people incentives for stopping in your booth.
Convey the Right Message. Don’t rely on your booth to send your message. It really doesn’t matter if people remember your booth or not. However, make sure your booth message and short and concise with just a few words that describe who you are so no one has to guess. The goal of trade show attendance is to get them to remember you and your products. Make sure you are providing the information visitors are looking for and really train your booth staffers to engage attendees. It may be product information, price lists, or ideas. Whatever your message, it should be concise, clear and easy to understand in just a few seconds. Overly complicated messaging will turn people off and they’ll pass right by your booth.
Consider an Incentive Program. Incentive programs are an excellent way to reward lead generation. And lead generation is one of the primary purposes of attending a trade show. You’ll be relying on your booth staff to engage and draw in visitors and then collect the leads. Reward them with an incentive program to keep them motivated. It can be something as simple as a gift card for whoever generates the most leads at the event or in a day. Give them goals to accomplish like taking 2 or 3 qualified leads per hour. Realistic goals and rewards for meeting them will motivate your booth staff to do their job well and engage attendees appropriately.
Follow Up. This is one of the biggest mistakes of trade show exhibiting. You go through all the work to plan and prepare for the show, you attend it and collect great leads, but then you get back to office and it goes nowhere. How can you expect to have a successful trade show experience if you don’t actually make contact with these new leads and turn them into customers? Have a plan in place to get leads entered into your system and make contact. Make sure your marketing or your booth staff understands what the sales team needs for good follow up with leads. Leads need to be followed up in 1-3 days and no more than that! This is important and can’t be swept into your desk drawer for later.
Evaluate. Take the time to evaluate how the event went. What kind of results did you have? Did you generate the number of leads you had hoped to? More importantly, were they quality leads from your target audience? How many people visited your booth? How many were you able to convert into customers? Evaluation of the event can reveal areas that worked well, as well as areas for improvement.
Trade show marketing is much more complex than just showing up for an event with a booth. There are many factors that play into your success, but the good news is, you’re in control of them. Implement some of these trade show ideas into your next event and see how your experience improves. Chances are you’ll find it less stressful to plan the event and more profitable to participate.
Get your hands on the What Attendees Tell Us About Best Practices white paper. This white paper reveals what attendees said caused them to visit trade show exhibits so you can understand what it takes to reach your target audience, and ultimately produce greater trade show results! You’ll find other great findings and best practices to help exhibitors like you improve your trade show program. Click here for your free copy.