Exhibiting at a trade show can be a daunting challenge, but through the application of a few basic principles, the process can be very manageable. Even seasoned trade show marketing professionals struggle to manage every aspect of their program, and every veteran will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect event. If you are in charge of the exhibiting program for your company, you should be focused on increasing the return on your investment through best practices in exhibiting, and some of those practices are listed below:
1- Plan well in advance. Flights, hotel rooms, and exhibit space are all less expensive when you book early. In addition to the huge savings, planning out your exhibiting program well in advance will allow you more time to detect and fix mistakes. The number of exhibitors who wait until the last minute to purchase their trade show display or promotional products is astounding, especially considering the fact that those who plan well in advance usually have a more successful exhibiting experience.
2- Work to attract attendees long before the trade show begins. A good part of trade show marketing occurs even before the event begins through pre-show mailers and press releases. It is important to let your potential clients know that you will be exhibiting as well as what products and/or services you will be marketing. Many attendees only visit booths that are on their itinerary (which they create before the show even begins). If you’re not on that list, even the best exhibit on earth won’t help you make a sale.
3- Train your booth staffers well. Your people will always be the focal point of your trade show booth from the perspective of potential clients, so you need to have knowledgeable staffers who understand your products and your brand. Many successful marketing programs have been ruined when booth staffers unwittingly sabotage relationships with potential clients. Carefully review the basics of your company’s marketing program including your best selling points, competitive advantages, and your branding basics.
4- Invest in a hybrid display with a clean, modern look. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know that curved popup displays dominate the landscape. Although popup displays are very affordable and easy to setup, they virtually guarantee that you will blend in with the crowd at your next conference, which is usually not the best idea. Most companies work hard to stand out and differentiate themselves from other exhibitors to attract the maximum amount of attendees.
5- Develop a strategy to collect and follow up on leads you generate at the conference. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, almost 90% of leads generated at trade shows are never followed up on. This means that by developing an effective strategy for following up on the leads you generate, you will increase the return on your investment by over 900% when compared with your competitors. A simple, focused approach to trade show marketing will take you further than the flashiest literature or the most well configured trade show exhibit.
Trade show marketing is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Through the application of these simple tips, you should see a drastic increase in the return on your investment at your next event.