Trade shows and conferences...how to make them successful!

For many businesses and sectors, trade shows are an effective element in the marketing plan. Generally though, they require a significant investment of resources when you factor in the booking fee for the stand or space, time to prepare (and to prepare your team), marketing collateral and travel. Taking the time to do some prior preparation will ensure that you maximise the return on your investment, so here are some top tips from the team at Why Marketing.

 

Set some objectives

Set down some numbers and you will be able to assess how successful your effort was. Even if you decide to simply aim to add 50 new contacts to your mailing list, or to meet with 10 of your existing clients; just get something down on paper.

 

Draw up a campaign plan

 Understand what you want to communicate during the trade show. Maybe you have a new product to launch, a special promotion or you simply want to get your brand noticed. You might require some dedicated printed collateral and it’s wise to run a marketing campaign prior to the event to invite your key stakeholders to your stand. A trade show is an opportunity to meet with existing customers, prospects and business partners who might be planning to attend anyway, and whom you might rarely see otherwise. They may also introduce you to new contacts.

Think beyond the show itself and prepare a follow-up campaign to progress the captured sales leads whilst they’re hot. We cannot tell you how important it is to be able to return and simply ‘press go’ to maintain the momentum of your efforts at the show.

 

Visualise your stand and compile a kit list

 Trust us when we tell you that any trade show requires a load of ‘stuff’. At the very least you will need business cards and any relevant printed literature (brochures and flyers) to pass to people who drop in for a chat. You should also adorn your space with a banner or two, to showcase your brand and grab attention. In addition, trade shows bear witness to a plethora of branded freebies such as pens, keyrings, pads, cakes and so on. All of these ‘take-aways’ carry a little bit of your brand and support brand recognition after the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also helpful to have a think about your stand and the experience you would like to give to your team and any visitors. Make a floor plan and decide where you kit will be stored or presented - this saves some serious setting-up time, and sense-checks your expectations about how much you can fit into the space. Consider how many of your team should be manning the stand at any one time, what the others will be busy doing, and where to host meetings with visitors. You might be contacting key stakeholders to arrange meetings which can be done elsewhere in the venue

 

Prepare some lead capture tools

Instruct your team to speak to everyone who visits the stand, and to network like never before! It is critical that you also agree on a few ways to collect contact details so that you can reach those people after the event, otherwise the effort is wasted. You might host a prize draw and collect business cards, ask people to fill out lead forms or tap details into a capture device such as MailChimp’s Subscribe App, a ‘mobile email collector’ for creating a mailing list ‘on the go’.

 

Team briefing

Before the show, sit down with your team and present your plan to them. Cover any campaigns you wish to run prior to the show, ensure they understand the objectives, key messages and your expectations of them. Also brief them on practicalities such as the venue location, when to arrive, where to park and what to wear (comfy shoes are a must!)

 Finally, endear your team to present a great image of your business; looking smart, wearing their smiles and engaging delegates. Never-ever should they appear bored, staring at phones or reading your own literature (which makes a seriously bad impression).

 

Fail-safe follow-up

After the event, meet your team again and discuss what worked and what didn’t work, the outcomes from the event and what happens next. Make notes on all of this to assess your success, whether you will repeat the exercise and, if so, to improve the process for next time.

 

Need some help to plan and execute a superb trade show presence?

Give us a call on 0113 2497799 and we’ll pop the kettle on! 

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