Trade shows are one of the best ways to get up-close and personal with your target customer. A well-executed trade show presence enhances your brand, showcases your company/products/services, lets you establish relationships with target customers, and solidifies relationships with your current customers. While exhibiting at trade shows offers an excellent return on investment, it also takes forethought and planning. Here are some general planning tips to help keep you decide whether a trade show is right for your company and help you prepare for your trade show.
Define Why You’re Exhibiting
Are you launching a new product? Do you want to promote your brand in your existing market? Do you want to expand your reach or enter a new market? Is your primary focus lead generation? Are you selling your company and want to position it for sale?
Answering the above questions will help you clarify your reasons and set your goals.
Contact Your Target Customer
- Once you clarify your reasons for exhibiting, contact your target customers and determine whether they will be attending. This will help you decide whether a certain venue will help you achieve your goals.
Consider the Venue and Location
- Venues in cities such as New York and Chicago that are union-driven offer a different experience than those in non-union cities. Union-driven venues typically are more expensive and have tighter deadlines and show requirements.
Determine Your Show Staff and Schedule
- Now is the time to bring your A-Team. Work out a staffing schedule and start discussing goals with your team.
- Consider speaking at sessions or presenting white papers at the show. This will increase your presence and drive customers to your booth at the show.
Promote Your Attendance
- Create a social media plan for pre-show promotion as well as promotion during the show.
- Let your customers know that you’ll be at the show using press releases, invitations, and letters.
- Offer customers incentives to drive them to your booth. Incentives can include dining certificates, drawings for giveaways, or gifts for stopping by.
Prepare Your Staff
- Review goals and discuss how staff will qualify prospects. Quality can be more important than quantity.
Create a Post-Show Follow-Up Plan and Follow It!
- Follow-up on leads within two to three working days, and no less than one week.
- Have a process for delivering marketing materials same or next day via email or app.
And remember: Planning is the foundation of success!