Tradeshow activity ramps up in the fall. With a significant investment in the booth, promotional materials and staff, it’s more important than ever to ensure a good return on this investment. Here are some tips to consider as you develop your strategy for a productive outcome.
1) Attend Tradeshows that are Relevant to Your Customer Base – Tradeshows change over the years. Your customer composition changes as well. The shows that worked so well a couple of years ago may no longer be a good fit. Sign-up for the shows that are most compatible with your current customer list.
2) Attract Attendees to Your Booth – Stir interest in booth attendance by developing a show program that identifies problem areas experienced by many of your customers. Email the program highlights in advance to prospective attendees. Indicate that staff will be available to offer advice, education and discussion at the show about these issues. Mention there will be a raffle, or offer a prize for booth attendance. Use the power of social media to advertise your booth.
Make your booth interesting and fun. Take off on the event’s theme. If the venue is in a particular region, play to the local culture. For example, in Texas the theme could incorporate a five-pointed star or cowboy boots; in New Orleans, you could play jazz music or display banners with the fleur-de-lis.
Be sure to promote your brand at the same time, i.e., everything needs to be clearly logoed. In warmer climates giveaways could include beverage insulators, sun visors or hand fans with a tropical design. These items would be fun to use at the convention, easy to pack and kept to use later. In rainy areas, a rain poncho in a pouch would be appreciated. Think about ice scrapers or hand sanitizers for shows in colder areas. Tailor the logoed giveaways to products the attendees will keep and use. The logoed information reinforces your brand long after the show ends.
3) Educate, Connect and Increase Profits – Before, during and after the show, educate attendees about your organization’s capabilities. Promote brand awareness. Prepare booth staff to relate intelligently and enthusiastically with attendees. The impression projected by booth staff reflects on your company’s brand, so prepare them well!
Set a goal to accumulate sales leads. Collect business cards, and keep notes. Scan badges and attach lead forms with data collected by the booth staff. Input this information immediately so that it can be recalled and used after the show. Prioritize the leads from those who need immediate contact to those who can go on a less intensive follow-up list. Schedule face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects to close sales as soon as feasible. Don’t let leads go cold.
4) Follow-Up with All Leads After the Show – Whenever possible, relate lead generation with business activity in a graph or statistical summary. Use this information to plan for future shows. Be sure to share this with management.