How to Have an Effective Trade Show – Newton, MA

- Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Trade shows should be a measurable marketing investment. But planning and goal setting is critical to generating a positive ROI from your trade show investment.

There are many reasons that a company will attend a trade show, mainly generating new business leads, promoting a new product or service, thought leadership, and professional development for team members. A company can accomplish all of this when they approach their trade show activities the right way.

Many factors go into getting a positive ROI from your trade show investment. The most obvious metric to look at of course is whether you generated any new business from your presence at the show.

The following tips can apply to any event a company is either attending or hosting. Preparation and planning is the key. Here’s how.

Choose the right trade show and send the right people. This is the first step in your goal setting process. Figure out why your presence at any given trade show is important. If the purpose to attend is for professional development, then send the key team members that will get the most out of it, and then they can teach others. If the purpose is to generate new business, do your research on the general demographic of attendees. If a large majority of attendees are from companies that could become customers or strategic partners then that is where your focus should be.

Follow the 7 P’s. The military saying– proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance is the best way to tackle a trade show, spend a good month planning your method of attack. All trade shows are different, but usually with various levels of sponsorship come certain perks such as the attendee list (GOLD), whitepaper submission, branding at the conference, and often a speaking role. Take advantage of all of them. You’re paying for it anyway. Once you have the attendee list, have a team go through the list and identify good potential customers and make a list for outreach.

Set up meetings and events in advanced. The purpose for outreach of course is to set up meetings. If your plan is to pay a ton of money to sit at a booth, or walk the trade show floor, don’t bother going. Schedule dinners and invite a handful of potential clients. Plan a cocktail reception in a hotel suite and give a small presentation.  

Have a team member speak at the show. This is one of the most important ways to really stand out at a trade show. This shows that your presence has been vetted by the event planning committee in charge of the trade show and of course that you are a thought leader in your space. Nothing builds trust faster than teaching something of value without asking for anything in return.

Give something away of actual value. Whether or not you are investing in a trade show booth, if you plan to give something away, give something away of value that will get their attention.

Build relationships, don’t sell. If you are going to invest the time and energy to attend, send your relationship builders. The trade show, reception, or after you speak is not where you will close a deal. Work towards scheduling a follow up meeting for as soon as possible while the trade show buzz is still in the air.

Do proper marketing before and AFTER the show.  If you are investing the time and money, make sure you plan accordingly. Prepare some content about your presence at the upcoming trade show and host it on your site. Use all of your social channels and schedule various announcements as the trade show or conference nears. Use these social channels during the trade show. Have someone there taking pics and video that you can use for marketing purposes later.

These are tips for tackling a trade show the right way in order to measure a successful outcome. Be sure to keep track of event success so you can make any needed strategy adjustments along the way. For more information contact The Exhibit Source.


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