It’s summer. Not only is everyone gearing up for vacation and big plans away, but also getting ready to hit the second half of the year strong. Maybe there have been some adjustments to your marketing goals after the first half. Maybe the second half has the potential to be a game changer for your company. Either way, it might also be time to pack your bags for another big reason: tradeshows.
The last decade has really drawn out a lot of strong feeling about trade shows, but despite the previous downward trend in attendance and frequency as the economy declined, they are still a viable method for businesses to make contacts, introduce new products and services, and in the long run, forge long lasting business relationships. Face-to-face connections with people as well as those people with your actual products, are still one of the best sales tools.
By following a few simple steps, we can help maximize your trade show dollars and experience.
Set a goal: The main objective of a trade show is to enhance brand visibility, promote new and existing products, generate leads, and drive incremental sales. It is important to identify the top trade shows in your industry. If your competitors made an investment in a particular trade show, you should consider why they chose that one and potentially invent as well.
First Impressions Matter: Evaluate your booth and budget. Bigger is not always better! Location, eye catching visuals/videos and lighting are important. Professional graphics and marketing materials make a great first impression too! Make sure you are personable and welcoming. Be approachable. No one wants to visit a booth where they are being ignored.
Create a buzz: Promote your booth early. Post frequently on social media. Not just with potential customers, but with the publications as well. Get a press list from show coordinators six to eight weeks prior and reach out six to the editors attending. Send an email detailing what you will be highlight at the show and invite them to your booth to talk about what is going on in your company.
Make contact for pre-show opportunities: Trade show e-letters are a cost effective way to promote a new product that you will be demonstrating/launching at the show and will help spread the word that you will be there to your potential customer base. Another option is a dedicated e-blast through an industry related publication. Don’t forget to get a copy of the show attendee list so you can identify who you want to meet, then make a plan and implement.
Put on a show: Sign-up for a presentation at the trade show. Showcase your knowledge and industry experience. Make yourself the ‘industry expert’. Focus on an issue or a solution to an industry problem. No one wants to sit through a sales pitch or a boring power point presentation. Host a private lunch or event allowing you to showcase what you know, while presenting and then mingling about.
Giveaways: Think outside the box. Give away something useful or more importantly give away something relevant to what you do. Another option is find a way to capture leads or drive people to your website. A fun idea would be to have a photo opportunity with a famous person, character or a cut-out board and then have the attendees go to your website to download the photo.
Make it count: As you know, immediate follow-up is essential. Trade shows are crowded and noisy, so if you meet someone at the booth that has specific questions, invite them to meet up in an event room or for coffee the next morning. Alternatively, marketing automation is waiting for that post show email campaign to nurture all your new leads.
Last, but not least: Listen to feedback: Listen to what people are saying when they come to your booth. Take note and make adjustments next time you participate in a trade show if need be. Follow-up with editors after the show to see what they thought and if they have any questions or need more information about your company and its products.
Remember, trade shows are another wonderful way to market your business and your products. After the economic recession started to turn around a few years ago, tradeshows have been making a comeback as a viable marketing tool again. Be sure to make the most of your time while you are there!