Is it over? Did we survive the storm? There is definitely no storm quite like tradeshow season. It seems that for two to three months, everything else on our desks gets shifted aside as we focus on tradeshows. For that 2-month period, I often feel like the front desk staff at the Hampton Inn is my family and my suitcase becomes my closet. A testament to the chaos of tradeshow season is how everything else slides – including the entries to this blog. But with a lull in the storm and moment to breathe before the winds pick up again, it’s a great time to reflect on tradeshow strategies. Most clients we work with spend a minimum of $50,000 exhibiting at a show like World of Concrete. That cost typically doesn’t factor in a dollar value for the time of the sales and support team. When you’re committing that kind of budget to exhibiting at a show, it’s critical to make the most of your investment. So here are some tips on how to do just that – suggestions from my soapbox you could say.
- Determine your objectives up front. Everyone wants to measure results, but that is impossible to do unless you determine what your ideal outcomes in advance. For some shows, your objective may be attaining sales on the show floor. For others, it may be press exposure or lead generation. Lay out your goals clearly in the preplanning process.
- Don’t be the best kept secret at the show. Let attendees know you’ll be there and why. Give them a reason to visit your booth. Do the same for editors. Let them know what new product you will be exhibiting and why it will be worth their time to visit.
- Make the most of every minute at the show. I tell my associates and my family that at a tradeshow, we work 24/7. Our day begins at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast meetings and we schedule as much as possible into the day right through cocktails at 10:00 p.m. (Family and friends seem to think that tradeshows are a vacation. Trust me. If you’re working them right, you’ll need a vacation when you return home!)
- Polish it until it shines – your brand image that is. Remember that a show is a personal interaction with your company/brand. Make sure your exhibit and the people in it represent your brand in the best possible way. Have good quality signage that reflects your marketing message and keep the booth neat and tidy. In most cases, it’s good to have you booth staff refrain from eating and drinking while in the booth as it detracts from the “presentation” of the brand. Also, make sure your booth staff is trained on how to work the booth. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer or an editor than approaching a booth with questions only to be ignored because all of the salespeople are preoccupied talking to each other about last night’s activities.
- Capture as much information as possible. Most shows offer a card reader. Have your salespeople add their own notes to the captured leads and keep all of that information for future marketing efforts.
- Don’t let the courtship end at the show. Statistics show that 80% of companies fail to follow up with potential customers after the show. I have to ask. Why even go if you aren’t going to continue to court that customer? Build an ongoing database with customer information. Follow up with those customers within 2-3 weeks of the show and continue to stay in touch with them at the appropriate level based on their interest.
It’s easy after a show to jump right into everyday business challenges again, but don’t miss the wonderful opportunities you’ve invested in uncovering. Before we know it, we’ll be setting objectives for the next big show. Keep my tips in mind and make the most of every dollar invested. If we can be of assistance in the planning, execution or follow-up process, give us a call. We’d love to help. Oh yes. I almost forgot my personal tradeshow tip. Pack plenty of shoes and ibuprofen!