1. Set measurable and realistic goals
The first step in preparing for trade show success is to set measurable and realistic goals. The easiest way to do is this is to ask yourself the basic question: Why are you exhibiting? Most often it’s because you want to generate leads for your business. However, you may have other reasons in mind such as building brand awareness or promoting a new product. Understanding your purpose allows you to set relevant goals.
Remember, it’s important to set goals that are both measurable and specific. Take a look at the examples below.
Generic: Get more leads.
Specific: Fill out 200 “Lead Cards” at XYZ Conference.
Generic: Ensure conference is a worthwhile investment.
Specific: Generate $10 in sales for every $1 spent at XYZ Conference.
Effectively planning your trade show goals is the starting point for success. Once your goals are set, everything else will fall into place. Additionally, goals are a good way to motivate your show staff. They’ll worker harder knowing that there’s a specific set of goals you want them to accomplish.
2. Select the right shows
Don’t assume that you need to be an exhibitor at every single show. After all, trade shows are an investment – you want to make sure you get a good return on them. Attending the right shows and skipping the wrong ones is an easy way to do that.
Consider the different trade shows of your industry and carefully weigh your options. Ask your employer which shows have been a success for them in the past. Most importantly, talk to your current and prospective customers… find out which shows and events they plan on attending.
3. Promote early – well before the show even starts
Promote early by letting your customers and prospects know that you’ll be exhibiting at the upcoming show. You can do this by sending out emails to your current customers, including the event in your company’s newsletter, spreading the word on social media, or writing a blog post on your company website.
Another promotional tactic you can do is send information to registered attendees of the show. Let them know that you too will be there; and give them a reason to stop at your booth. How do you get ahold of the registration list? Simply ask the trade show organizer to send it to you. Many event organizers don’t have an issue sending this list to companies who’ve paid for booth space.
4. Maximize your booth
Regardless of size, there are several ways that you can maximize your booth potential. The best way of doing this is to focus on providing a quality experience to your visitors. Provide valuable information packets, freebies they actually want, and of course, friendly, knowledgeable staff.
You’ll also want to take a close look at your signage. Bold and bright graphics are more likely to catch the attention of booth visitors. But there’s a fine line – you don’t want them to be too “busy” either. And don’t overload them with too much text. Just be clear about who you are and what you have to offer.
5. Nurture your leads
Staff your booth with friendly, knowledgeable people. Employees who are positive, outgoing, and excited about your business are more likely to make sales and impress your visitors.
Train your staff on how to engage their visitors and identify high quality leads. Most importantly, employees need to listen to their prospects and help them uncover their business problems. Then, present your company’s products as the ultimate solution.
6. Follow up – early and with everyone
Believe it or not, some vendors never even follow up with their trade show prospects. If you’re going to invest in a trade show, you have to be willing to follow up with your leads. After all, that’s why you’re there isn’t it?
The best thing you can do is to follow up early – within a week, if not sooner. Remember, there are other vendors at the show too. So if one of your competitors follows up before you do, you may have just lost out on an easy sale.
Also, it’s important to follow up with a personalized message instead of a generic email blast. Remind the prospect what you talked about at the show. They’ll be impressed with your effort, and sometimes that’s all it takes to win them over. Utilize Lead Cards to help you keep track of all your prospects.
Visitors may not need to buy anything from you right now. But they could have a need for your products in the future. And prospects are more likely to remember a vendor who followed up with them.