Whether you do one or two tradeshows during the year or multiple shows during your entire marketing cycle, the results you reap from attendance at any exhibition are directly related to your back end pre-show planning and marketing. By focusing on the three key areas below, you can increase your return on investment from trade shows for many years to come.
1. Pre-show Planning
Analyze each show you will be attending in terms of booth size, booth location and other marketing opportunities. If you design a killer display for the smallest booth you will be exhibiting in, it is easy to adapt it for larger booths in future shows. However, if you invest the major part of your tradeshow budget into displays that can only be used in large booths, you’ll be faced with the choice of either purchasing more displays or trying to cram a huge display into a tiny booth at future shows.
Once your booth design is locked down and you have ordered your displays, move on to your pre-show and show day marketing campaigns. Pre-show, take advantage of any free promotional advertising opportunities such as press releases or show sponsorship by vendors or major clients. Tap your email lists to let clients, potential customers and vendors know which shows you will be attending and how they can locate your booth.
Work with your advertising agency or in-house staff to design an overall plan to promote your products and services in a consistent manner. Look at items such as:
Presentation displays – should you opt for pop-up displays or banner stand displays?
Outdoor or indoor signage
Poster stands or literature holders
Promotional materials like brochures and catalogs
Peripherals like business cards or promotional giveaways
2. Set Specific Goals
While it’s nice to have a goal of getting more leads or generating more sales, how do you measure more? Do you want a few more sales than the last time you exhibited, or do you want a 25% increase in leads generated and a 50% increase in show day sales?
If your goal is increased lead generation, how will you collect those leads and what is your follow-up strategy for contacting and converting them?
Attending a tradeshow without a set of specific goals is like using a GPS without setting a destination – you just end up going in circles, wasting your time and money.
3. Attend the Right Shows, Skip the Wrong Shows
Some shows are like the goose who laid the golden egg – lead generation is high, conversion rates are good, and profits soar after attendance, but others are dismal failures. While you could try to figure out the winners from the losers by trial and error, it makes better sense to do a little detective work first to increase your odds of picking winners more often.
One good way to do that is by finding out which shows your competitors attend consistently. Once you have a list of potential shows, dig deeper to find out why those shows worked so well. Contact past attendees or vendors and ask them why the show was so successful for them as well as what they felt they could have done differently to get better results.
Additionally, before you commit to any show, ask for a list of the prior year’s attendees and do some research. Are there companies who attended the same shows as you did in the past that have dropped shows? Contact them to find out why they are no longer participating.
Finally, do a staff debriefing after each exhibition to find out what worked and what you can change for better results. For instance, would an interactive display work better than display banners for conveying your message? Could more signage or promotional materials have enhanced your message? Once you know what produces results, you can make subtle changes to fine-tune your tradeshow experiences to get the best results at every show.
Image credit via FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Ventrilock