What Is Your Trade Show Strategy?
Do you have a strategy... or are you just keeping up with the Joneses?
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you have a trade show marketing strategy? Do you have a trade show plan, or any
trade show goals? Is there a reason or reasons that you are exhibiting at
shows? Or are you like many trade show exhibitors that I call the "Trade
Joneses"... Is the only real reason that you're exhibiting at a tradeshow
because your competitor is doing it? Are you going to the trade show just
because everyone else is, or at least, you think everyone else is? Are you
just keeping up with the Joneses? It seems that many companies sign up to
exhibit at a trade show because they've heard it's a smart thing to do, or
because other companies do it. Or they've been to a trade show and walked
through the many trade show booths with a tote bag in hand gathering up lots of
trade show swag, and they figure it everyone else is doing it, they might as
well too. So they sign up and pay for a booth space at whatever trade show they
think their competitor is also exhibiting at, and then they just show up, figuring that's all it
takes. They don't have a strategy. They don't have a plan. They don't have any
goals. They just picked a trade show or convention that they heard through the
grapevine was a good, or at least decent, tradeshow. Then they bought
a portable trade show display and had their web designer create some
graphics for it. Now they're sitting in their trade show booth on the second
day of the show, wondering why nobody seems to be stopping at their booth and
why they're not having any trade
show success, and
they're starting to wonder why they ever decided to try trade show marketing in
the first place. Don't make this trade show rookie mistake. Don't sign up to
exhibit at a trade show until you have a trade show strategy, which means having
a trade show plan and trade show goals!
Set Goals and Make a Budget:
First, you need to set a financial goal and create a budget. You need to figure
out how much it is going to cost you to exhibit at a trade show, or multiple
trade shows if that is your proposal. Trade show marketing is one of the most
expensive forms of marketing out there, so be prepared. How much is your exhibit
booth space going to cost, how much is a trade show display and the trade show
graphics for it, as well as the graphics design cost (and should you buy the tradeshow display or rent
it). How much are the printed brochures, pamphlets, and other handouts going to
cost, and are you going to have trade show giveaways and how much will they
cost? What is your travel cost, hotel cost, rental car (if you need it cost),
and food cost? The bottom line again is that trade show marketing expenses add
up! And don't forget the cost of pre-show mailers and other promotional
activities, and also post-show follow up. Once you've got a total cost, you need
to set realistic goals on what you can accomplish at the show and how much
revenue you can generate. You need to come up with a realistic budget that shows
how much you will spend, and how much you will make, and the latter had better
be a significantly bigger number than the former.
Research your options and Pick the Right Trade Show:
Once you've got a financial goal and have determined that exhibiting at a trade
show makes financial sense, you need to pick the right trade show to exhibit at.
Don't just assume that because a show is well known, that it is the best show to
exhibit at. Do you research and find out how many people will be attending the
show, and who they are. Is the crowd a "prospect rich" group with money to spend
and the authority to make purchasing decisions? It's more important who the
attendees are than how many of them there are. You need to research all the
available trade shows and make sure you pick the show with the most potential!
Don't Just Show Up at the Show... Promote Your Trade Show
Exhibit Before the Show!
Pick a trade show that allows you to get a mailing list for pre-registered
attendees in advance of the show and then send out a pre-show mailer telling
people about your tradeshow booth, and offer them something if they stop by. Contact all
of your existing customers and let them know that you'll be exhibiting at the
show. Give them your trade show booth number and a reason to stop by. Get the word out
about your trade show booth before the show so that people go to the show and
look for you. Don't rely on them just stumbling across your exhibit booth space. Promote
before the show!
At the Show... Qualify and Convert. Achieve your Goals.
While a lot of things go into insuring an effective trade show booth experience
(like having an attention-grabbing trade show display and handling out popular
trade show giveaways and swag to create a buzz at the show about your booth),
one of the most important things in your trade show strategy should be making sure your trade show booth (and
graphics, giveaways, and mailers) are drawing the right crowd. You want to pull
in potential prospects that have the budget and authority to do business with you,
and how have a genuine need for your product or service. When the trade show
crowds start descending on your trade show booth, you should quickly start
sorting the wheat from the chaff. What this means is you need to meet people,
but then avoid the small talk and idle conversation, and get to the point. If
they're serious trade show convention attendees, they will appreciate you getting to the
point since they don't want to waste their time either. Tell them what you do
(or make or sell or provide) and see if they even need your service. If they do,
find out what they're currently using and make sure you can offer them a better
solution. Make sure they can afford it, and then explain the benefits. The trade
show floor is for making deals, not talking about what NFL team has the best
chance of winning next year's Super Bowl (we all know that's the Packer, right?)
Qualify and convert, and focus on trade show goals!.
After the Show... Follow Up, Debrief, Assess, Adjust, and
Prepare for the Next Trade Show.
Don't just go back to the office after the show and relax and tell stories about
what happened each night after the trade show. Your trade show work isn't over
yet. You need to follow up! Hopefully you closed several deals at the show in
your booth, but for all those prospects who you didn't close with, you need to
follow up. Do it right away. The longer you put it off, the less likely you are
to do it, and the more likely one of your trade show competitors is to take your
prospect. Remember to follow up!
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