A large portion of my early career as an event planner was spent producing large scale trade shows. The work that goes into exhibiting at a trade show can be immense but they can also be incredibly effective initiatives for many businesses.
One of the biggest advantages to trade shows is their exceptional targeting power. They’re almost always industry specific which means your ideal customers are not only in the room but they’ve come specifically to seek out businesses like yours. The opportunities are boundless but, like everything, there are still some important strategies to keep in mind to ensure you excel.
BUT, it’s not always as straightforward as simply showing up. Trade shows are bursting with of all kinds of activity and other exhibitors vying for time with attendees which means you need to have a clear set of goals and a plan in place to attract the right visitors to generate leads or direct sales.
- Active Participation – Trade show producers spend major marketing dollars to get attendees through the doors. Often they will be looking for vendors who want to partner for giveaways or additional promotion. These are great ways to extend your brand just by getting involved. What does this look like? Scavenger hunts, spotlights, speaking opportunities, donated prizes etc. Don’t be afraid to ask what they might have going on and certainly make suggestions if you see an opportunity for a successful partnership.
- Get Social – If you have social media related to your business you absolutely need to leverage your current followers to let them know where you will be and encourage them to come and visit. Offering added incentives and trade show specific deals can also further leverage your participation and attract more visitors to your booth.
- Brand your give-aways – candies or generic nik naks might seem easy but they’re also forgettable. Brand your hand outs and choose unique and memorable items connected to your business. They’ll already have at least 10 pens in their bag before they reach you. I promise.
- Choose the right prizes – Trade show visitors LOVE entering draws. Whenever possible choose a prize that is either a product or service you offer or something closely connected to your business. Targeted prizing attracts those more likely to become customers while generic prizes attract everybody.
- Have a follow up strategy – Ask questions, collect email addresses (in a CASL compliant way) or even set up follow up appointments on-site. Find ways to reconnect with your visitors after the show to keep the momentum going and convert any leads you collect into lasting clients.
- Integrate your marketing efforts – Trade shows may only last for a day or two but pre and post promotions can significantly extend the life of your investment. Social media activity alone can give businesses a major boost if leveraged well as can show related publicity and follow up communications. Thinking beyond the floor can offer a wealth of opportunities.
Finally, consider how you plan to measure your success once the event has wrapped. Direct sales are straightforward but figures around leads, coupons, follow up effectiveness and even social media analytics can help determine what strategies were most effective and offer insights as to how to tweak your efforts for events to come.
As trade show producers we do our best to attract the type of clientele you want to meet but once they walk through the doors, the rest is up to you.
If you are in need of an Event Planner, contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org to bring your event to the next level.