The first thing that comes to the mind of many small and medium small business owners when thinking trade shows is “expensive”.
That doesn't mean that trade shows can't deliver a great return on investment. The key to trade show success is how hard you are willing to work.
Many businesses are willing to spend big bucks travelling to and from and exhibiting at trade shows, with little other than a hope of traffic, orders and success. They certainly book appointments, but do they pull out all the stops?
A successful trade show can be measured in less quantifiable ways than orders written on site, such as new leads, enhanced customer relationships, brand building, product demoing, and sales training.
However, as well as these successes, it never hurts to get a show to pay for itself. Here are some ideas:
1. Contact your existing customers with a personalized message asking if they will be attending the show and requesting a formal appointment time. A call to action needs repetition from several methods to be most effective.
2. Contact the trade show association or organization and request a pre-registered buyer’s list for the upcoming show. Then, repeat the first suggestion about contacting customers with an introduction to your key product or service and how it can help run or grow their company. Request a formal appointment time.
3. Offer a free gift with a high retail value that can be acquired by you factory-direct at cost as a reward for showing up on time for a pre-booked appointment.
4. Overcome objections like; “I’m not booking appointments but I’ll stop by” with simple logic: “With all of our key staff on site and best products on display, we don’t want to run the chance of not being able to speak to you when you drop by. An appointment will guarantee you get our undivided attention.”
5. Use an online calendar to make sure no one gets double-booked and independent sales reps, if you have them, can see your availability in real time.
6. Advertise in a daily show magazine if there is one published on site. This is as captive an audience as you are going to get and the most likely chance that a print ad will translate into immediate action.
7. Offer show only specials.
8. Offer a daily prize in exchange for business cards dropped at your booth.
9. Rent the bar code scanner that some trade shows offer so you can scan the badges of buyers at your booth to ensure you get the most up to-date customer data. That’s your key to post show follow-up.
10. Deliver annual awards for “dealer of the year” or “distributor of the year” so that lesser-performing customers have something to aspire to.
11. Capitalize on celebrity endorsers, if you have them. Have them come for a picture and autograph signing or a meet-and-greet to draw attention and reward clients.
If this all sounds expensive, it is likely a still a fraction of what you are paying for floor space, flights and accommodations. A lot of it requires sweat equity more than dollars.
Using these ideas will allow you to book a couple hundred or more meetings over a four day show. That kind of result practically guarantees the show’s success and return on investment.
An “if we build it, they will come” attitude is no more likely to work at a trade show than it is with a business idea. Exhaust your opportunities to confirm success before you get there.
Original article – The Globe and Mail