Selecting a useful, eye-catching promotional product to give away at your next trade show is just one step in an effective strategy. If you want the show to be a roaring success, you need more than an item that grabs attention. A foundational trade show strategy gets people lining up at your booth and making a purchase at the follow-up sales call.
Guaranteed Trade Show Success
For B2B marketers, in-person events like trade shows continue to be the most effective tactic for selling, with 69 percent of marketers reporting this tactic as highly successful.[i] However, creating an experience that attracts trade show attendees is not so easy. You know the drill: At every trade show, there are some booths that are wildly successful, attracting tons of attendees, while others get dismal traffic numbers. You can put your trade show success in the former category, by following these steps.
Plan, Plan, Plan
It’s the foundational factor upon which you can build momentum for the trade show. Planning well in advance of the show helps you do more than just book flights and hotels for your team. Best planning practices go well beyond logistics. Dive into steps like what you’ll do before the show, how you’ll get leads and prospects, what you’ll do during the show, and how to follow up on leads after the event. From soup to nuts, and start to finish, your show should have a well-developed strategy for success – or it’ll fall flat.
Speak It Out
While your trade show booth acts as the hub for the event, consider speaking at one of the main or breakout sessions. Trade show event speakers gain a valuable marketing platform and a broader access to attendees. Being a speaker also gives you credibility, lending to your company’s appeal. At a trade show, attendees are looking for any factor that sets apart the multiple vendors from which to choose. You’ll need to plan early if you want to be a speaker, and apply well ahead of the event.
Sure, you want to get leads at the show; however, that may not be the best use of your resources. For example, if you’re launching a new product, your strategy should center on building awareness. A sales-centric approach will involve capturing target-rich prospects for building an email list. Just be sure you know the end goal for the trade show, and then build your strategy around it. When these goals drive the event, you’ll be able to build your event planning around them.
Get Out the Word
Well before the trade show, create awareness about the event. Host a webinar, generate a series of social media posts and write press releases so your target audience knows you’re going to be there. You can also write blog posts about the event, helping your audience select from the main speakers and sessions to attend, and know the people within your organization that will be speaking, products you’re featuring at the show, discounts you’re offering, and so forth.
In these channels, personally invite customers and prospects to stop by your booth at the show. Give them a great reason to make contact with you and set up appointments ahead of time to conduct demos or presentations.
Choose Your Booth
There’s almost nothing more important for trade shows than the location of the booth. Study the exhibition area and identify high-traffic areas and opportunities for engagement. This is another reason to plan ahead for trade shows. Booth space sells out quickly, because every vendor wants to get the best locations. To secure your booth location, put this step high on your list of priority tasks.
Make a Splash
To get noticed and lure in prospects, your trade show booth must be inviting. With your team, make a plan to create a comfortable space that makes a powerful visual impact. Your message should be clear, so that prospects know what you’re about just from a quick glance across the room. Remember, your booth is more like a tagline than a brochure. Brochures are lengthy, and take awhile for readers to get through and understand the overall message. Taglines have instant recognize-ability, and that’s what your booth should have.
Here’s where your booth’s custom promotional product also comes into play. Select an item that will stand out from the myriad of other products vendors are giving away. It should hold appeal, be useful around the office of home, and memorable – enough so that recipients can easily recall your branding and message later on. You can also utilize trackable giveaways, such Smart Business Cards™ or other printed products. These promotional items will allow you to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign by tracking the number of prospects who interact with your marketing material.
Get Them Engaged
A splashy booth that draws in crowds isn’t enough to make your trade show event a roaring success. Trade show booth staff should also know how to engage prospects. In the few seconds you have to make an impression on the people that stop by your booth, your team should know how to lure them in and start a conversation about your brand. Demonstrations, motion graphics, hands-on opportunities, and videos offer huge potential for conveying messaging about your products or services. Your team should also be trained in how to identify leads and then capture contact information for effective follow up after the show.
When It’s All Said and Done
Often, what’s most important is the work that comes after the show is over. Your team shouldn’t feel a sense of relief that the work is done. In fact, this is when the important work begins, as following up on leads is the action that ultimately increases revenue and drives traffic. In the planning phase, develop a follow up strategy for contacting warm leads via email, thanking the lead for stopping by or inquiring about a product, etc., and offer prospects a free download, an easy way to gauge response and interest. Then, place this select group of leads in a lead nurturing campaign to keep the buzz going about your brand.
Trade show success is attainable, if you know how to plan a comprehensive strategy. With careful planning, participating as a speaker, identifying goals, getting the word out, choosing a booth location, engaging visitors, and following up – your business will be guaranteed a return on investment in the trade show.