Don't wait until the last minute. Follow these steps to develop a trade show strategy.
Exhibiting at a trade show can be an excellent way to grow your business and get in front of prospective customers. However, it requires a concentrated strategy to maximize your ROI.
Whether you only exhibit at one trade show a year or 20, trade shows are an effective way to grow your business. The exposure to your desired demographic and the ability to showcase your goods or services is invaluable. Yet, no matter how seasoned a brand is, many businesses fail to examine the strategy behind exhibiting. Instead, many businesses are last minute in all of their efforts when a concentrated trade show strategy would be much more effective.
If you're not currently doing any of the following, it may be time to adopt a new trade show strategy.
Develop a game plan with all of your stakeholders
First and foremost, you need to gather all of your stakeholders together to develop a game plan. Your trade show strategy could easily be derailed by any number of people across departments if you're not all on the same page.
In your meetings, you should discuss everything from designing your exhibit to budget, pre-show marketing, training your booth staff, post-show follow-up and how to measure your ROI from the show. We advise these meetings should begin right after your last trade show to prepare for either next year's or next quarter's show.
Design your trade show exhibit early
Your presence on the trade show floor is important. You want to look your best, which is why you should design your trade show exhibit early. Often, exhibit houses are able to devote more time to fleshing out a truly unique and creative design with ample time before a show. Additionally, those who design their trade show exhibits early are better able to take advantage of discounts and special offers. Those savings could translate into either a more custom design or extra room in the budget to host an event.
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Identify prospects early and create a campaign to attract them to your booth
They say the early bird gets the worm. In this case, the old adage is true. In order to capture a prospect's attention, it requires an average of nine to 11 touches. If you start an email and calling campaign early, you'll be the brand on their minds when they get to the show.
By starting early, you can also space out your communications so your prospects aren't bombarded with daily messaging. Nothing frustrates trade show attendees more than the last weeks before the show when everyone comes out of the woodwork to email them to stop by their booth.
Give people a reason to stop
The latest trade show strategy is experiential events. Experiential events help draw people into your booth and make them experience your brand for themselves. There are a variety of these kinds of events: immersive, multisensory, or a good old-fashioned spectacle.
When done right, people stop at your booth to have fun while learning about your business. Consider how technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification and touch screens can all contribute to such an experience. Or you could go the route of entertainment, instruction, and more. The key is to give people a reason to stop by your booth instead of your competitor's.
Don't forget the post-show follow-up
Post-show, it's important that you follow up with prospects and leads within the first three days when the show is still fresh in their mind and your conversation might have struck a chord with them. Continue that conversation, invite them to lunch or simply tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. You don't need to start off with a huge sales pitch. You're developing a relationship. As that relationship grows, it's more likely a qualified prospect will give you their business over a competitor.
A concentrated trade show strategy can yield much higher ROI than you could have imagined. However, a poor trade show strategy could ultimately be costly for a number of reasons: You may not have obtained the traction in the industry you hoped for, you may have spent far too much of your marketing budget, and you may have ultimately turned your own customers off in the process. A well-thought-out strategy can help avoid that and instead successfully grow your business.