Despite the growing trend toward incorporating more social and digital media into the marketing mix, trade shows remain a fundamental part of marketing strategy. There’s just something about meeting face-to-face that accelerates business. Trade shows are also a place to source quality leads, a venue to nurture existing partner relationships and an opportunity to connect with industry influencers – all under one roof. Following are six tried-and-true tips to help maximize your company’s trade show investment:
1. Tell your prospects, customers and the media that you’re exhibiting.
Make it simple for them to find you. Announce the fact that you’ll be at the show via email and your social media sites and be sure to include your booth number. Trade shows are also chock full of news for the media. Ask the show for a list of pre-registered reporters and schedule one-on-one appointments to introduce the company or talk about what’s new. If you can, announce something at the show so that the media has a reason to meet (and then write about) you!
2. Consider hosting a hospitality event for prospects and partners.
Partner with an industry guru, editor of a well-read trade journal or blog, or other leader and invite customers, partners and prospects. Have the guest speaker give a short talk and then let everyone mingle. People appreciate a place to network off the show floor.
3. Focus on the business benefits of your technologies and services.
Answer the question “How will working with you improve my bottom line or help me get products to market faster?” Outlining the key features of your new products is certainly appropriate for data sheets, but when your sales people are speaking with decision makers, be sure that everyone can clearly articulate how your company’s offerings can improve their business.
4. Stay true to your brand.
Your booth is the physical experience of your brand, so be sure your core attributes are represented through clear, concise messaging. Make them the leading design elements so that attendees connect what they’re seeing visually to what they’ll experience by working with you. At the same time, don’t stray too far from your brand, especially with regard to booth attractions. Read about how GoPro, the popular little video cam, stayed true to its brand at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market earlier this year.
5. Ensure consistent communication.
The key messages that define your brand should be consistent not only in your booth design and materials but also in speaking points for the sales people interfacing with attendees. Develop an elevator story that’s simple and quick to deliver and rehearse it with staffers in advance of the show.
6. Follow up.
For qualified prospects, engagement shouldn’t end when the show does. Be sure to enter all the information you have from conversations with interested leads into your CRM system quickly and include notes from your meeting so that further communications are timely and relevant. Your initial follow-up may be something simple, like collateral, a recent white paper or relevant report, but it should effectively respond to the needs the prospects expressed at the show. Here’s a helpful video from Microsoft about increasing tradeshow ROI with their CRM platform.
Trade shows are among the most effective ways to market a brand. However, making the most of the investment means actively driving traffic to the booth, capitalizing on media attendance at the show, leveraging the show media outlets for exposure and ensuring consistency among all at-show – and after-show – marketing communications. Implementing a well-planned engagement strategy will ensure that your sales and marketing teams maximize the time they have onsite, and in turn, the overall event ROI.