Trade Show Success

For some of you, exhibiting at trade shows is a critical part of your marketing strategy. For others, you may be thinking of participating in the future. Hopefully, I can provide some helpful information to make your experience beneficial.

There are some real benefits to trade shows:

  1. It is economical – it costs approximately $350 to get someone to your booth and to enter into dialogue with you. Compare this to the over $700 it costs to generate a prospect from the field.
  2. It provides a visual and experiential experience for attendees through hands on demonstrations that have the ability to engage all of the senses.
  3. Currently, trade shows are seeing a decrease in attendance, but those attending tend to be decision makers.

Trade show exhibiting can be very expensive, so it’s important that it not only be a tactic of your overall marketing strategy, but that you have a strategy specifically for trade shows. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Exhibit for the right reasons. Are you looking to find new customers, sell more to your existing clients, introduce a new product or service or reposition your brand?
  • Evaluate past shows. What were the results? Were the demographics of the attendees the same as the demographics of your ideal client? Was the traffic what you expected? Did you generate revenue?
  • Space is important. Booth size needs to have sufficient space to accommodate staff, the physical exhibit and booth visitors.
  • Invest in your booth. It needs to be a magnet to draw people in, with great graphics that communicate who you are, what you do and what your offer is. A great booth can actually help to pre-qualify attendees. In addition, your booth should reflect the benefits you can bring to visitors – increased productivity or competitiveness, efficiency or increased profit.
  • Consider setting appointments, pre-show, using integrated direct marketing (mail, email, microsites, social media). This can help you determine how much staff and marketing collateral will be required during the show.
  • Staff is critical. Those manning the trade show booth should be approachable, friendly, confident, intimately know the company’s products and services and be a great communicator.
  • Engage top management in your planning. Consider giving them a specific role at the trade show, such as meeting with VIP customers or high level prospects.
  • Focus on collecting good information so that your follow-up staff has the facts to effectively move an interested prospect into becoming a customer. It’s also important to make sure your sales staff, or follow-up team, is sufficient to respond within 7 days to A-level prospects. If your staff isn’t sufficient, consider outsourcing.
  • Measure! It’s important to know if the trade show was worthwhile. Did it generate quality leads? Did it provide A-level prospects? Were the demographics of attendees the same as your target demographics? Was attendance what you expected? Was your booth and messaging effective? These measurements can help you determine if attending this trade show in the future will be worthwhile.
  • Be open to new trade show opportunities. Consider new trade shows, particularly if you are entering a new market or have developed a niche market.

Exhibiting at trade shows can bring opportunity, but you must be prepared with a strategy to make that opportunity pay off! When you’re ready to put your trade shows ideas in motion, we’re here to help.

About Debbie Simpson

President of Multi-Craft in Newport, Kentucky.
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