Planning a trade show requires organization, creativity, and resilience. While most business-to-business organizations live the success of a trade show by the number of leads, opportunities, and return on investment (ROI) resulting from an event, the level of effort put into it. ultimately determines its success rate. Trade shows represent an enormous investment for a business. So you need metrics to prove why this can be a good plan of action in your promoting wheelhouse.
Here are some tips for ensuring the success of your trade show:
Plan well in advance.
One of the most important things you can do before a trade show is to plan well in advance. It’s never too early to start. Let your team know the travel dates so they can book flights before the cost goes up. Secure room blocks before the hotel are full.
Besides event logistics, pre-show campaign planning is essential. Are you launching a new product around the world at the same time as the event? Do you have any big news to share during the week of the show? Do you need to print product sheets and order gifts? Start preparing trade show emails at least four to six weeks before the event. You’ll want to let your audience know you’re at the show and use email as a platform to announce all important news, teasers, and opportunities to meet the team.
Plan far, far ahead
Choosing a show is the first step. Next, you need to decide on the best booth size for your needs and the best location for your business on the trade show floor. These are important considerations. The success of your booth depends on making informed decisions. If your team doesn’t have direct experience working at your event venue, it’s a good idea to partner with someone who does. A trade show booth builder will have a network of specialists in all the cities where the trade shows are held. These specialists will come with in-depth knowledge of the major sites. Working with them and based on their experience can alter difficult logistics and make sure that you’re not relying alone on website staff (who might not devote the time and attention to your questions and issues).
Make sure your team members are ready well in advance. Besides knowing all the necessary event and exhibition costs, your budget should consider your travel expenses. Do not wait till the last minute to book flights and make hotel reservations! For large events, hotels near the venue can fill up months in advance.
Prepare the sales and executive teams.
An effective tool to prepare for a trade show is communication. A variety of teams typically attend trade shows, including marketing, sales, and the leadership team. Make sure most are on a similar page and have all the relevant information leading up to the event.
Include conferences and booth hours on everyone’s calendars (and within the correct time zone!). Create a logistics document to make sure nothing is overlooked, and they communicated expectations. The document should include the phone numbers of all of your team members in case you need to contact them on site. Print a few copies and make them easily accessible on a mobile device for traveling.
Invite everyone attending the show to take part in a “get-up call” the week before the show date. Prepare a slideshow and include maintenance items such as hotel, location, opening hours, dress code, and an overview of scheduled booth meetings and events. Networking.
Schedule meetings at the booth before the show.
The most successful trade shows I have run and attended were those where sales and marketing worked together to pre-schedule booth meetings with prospects, customers, and partners. Set a realistic goal for your team (for example, use last year’s pre-programmed meeting number as a baseline and increase it by 25%).
Create a shared calendar to give the sales team visibility into the booth schedule so they can see which frames will be available each day of the show.
Be active on social networks.
Post photos of the event on your social networks before, during, and after the event. Invite attendees to prevent by your booth to enter a contest, pick up a present, or watch a demo. Be sure to include your booth number and event hashtag so attendees can find you easily.
Invest extra cash during a giveaway or activity to draw in attendees. Be creative in your offers. I’ve seen everything from slots with cash prizes to frozen margaritas. Everyone loves food. Rent an espresso machine or ice cream truck and invite attendees to wander around your booth. It will facilitate break the ice, open conversations, and hopefully result in qualified opportunities.
Although difficult, executing a successful trade show (and successful trade show marketing strategies) is possible. To get the most out of your exposure, your business should expect to devote a lot of time and resources. But when the exposure is done in the right way, the investment will prove to be a profitable business.
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