Showcasing your company with a booth at an expo or trade show is a costly affair, but it can be well worth the expense. Don’t squander this valuable opportunity to meet new customers, gather leads, and drive brand awareness with poor planning. A properly executed trade show presence is an incredible opportunity to introduce relevant audiences to your product. The big question is, “How?”
1. Get the word out
Depending on your company’s goals, revenue strategy, and historical lead generation data, you may want to send a pre-show mailing to high-value clients. Snail mail is not dead but, in fact, is making a resurgence. Many business marketers have come to think of it as a pricey way to get the word out. However, the proper trade show vendor partnership will ensure you have a targeted and accurate list, and make sure you qualify for all possible postal discounts.
2. Make a pal
The trade show organizer’s management team has a stake in your company having a successful expo experience. Take advantage of their expertise and advice by contacting them in advance. If possible, meet with one or more of them face to face and chat. Otherwise, meet over the phone. They can give you tips on selecting a booth location and increasing traffic to your booth; suggest marketing opportunities; and share any number of ideas and suggestions. They may also be able to advise you about how successful certain tactics were in the past, etc.
3. Rally behind one clear message
Trade shows can be a blur of cookie-cutter, boring displays that do this or do that, and your company will be lost in the crowd if you do not find a way to make a lasting impression. Everything from the placement of your logo (which should be unobstructed and clear) to your message to how your booth staffers interact with attendees needs to be part of the same cohesive strategy. Booth staff as well as the marketing collateral and the booth graphics should be able to sum up your company in a few words or an image.
4. Establish a clear call-to-action
Companies that exhibit at trade shows have different goals and priorities. Perhaps your goal is to gather as many leads as possible, or you want to increase brand awareness with the target demographic who will be attending the trade show. Networking, and meeting potential investors and opportunities for partnerships can also be a motivation. Regardless, you need to formulate a strategy around your specific call-to-action.
If your focus is on gathering leads, then you can entice attendees to give out their contact information. Ask the trade show organizers to see if they have an event app that would help. If your call-to-action is brand awareness, then your displays and graphics must be compelling enough to draw people into your booth space for an encounter.
5. Strike while the iron is hot
Trade shows tend to be one of the more expensive ways to gather leads, so every lead is more valuable. The follow-up needs to happen when the lead is the most engaged– which is as soon as possible. Your booth staffers talked with many people at the event, and have seen and learned about many companies. You want to make post-show contact with them early, while the person is the most likely to remember what your company is about. Mention a detail that was discussed in the conversation, or how your product can help their company specifically.