Craig W. Moritz is a Senior Event Executive who has been in the trade show industry for more 25 years, selling and/or managing events in over 25 countries on six continents. Being from Texas, he has primarily been involved in the energy and industrial industries. Helping exhibitors maximize ROI is Craig’s passion and goal with each and every event.
Exhibiting with Purpose for Profit – Part 1
For more than 25 years I have worked in the trade show sales and management industry. In that time, I have sold and managed well over 150 events in more than 20 countries on six continents and seen both incredible successes and epic failures by exhibitors.
I thought I would share some best practices that I have observed and heard over the years from exhibitors and industry colleagues.
If your company is deliberate in trade show planning, goal setting, execution and post-show lead follow-up, your exhibits program should be very successful. If you aren’t deliberate and proactive, then there is a good chance that each trade show is just an “expensive appearance” for your company, as my friend and trade show expert Jefferson Davis of Competitive Edge likes to describe it.
Today I want to highlight three areas that are vital to a successful trade show and it all starts well before the show opens.
Goal Setting– What are your company’s stated goals for the event? As Lewis Carroll said years ago “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
- Establish why your company is exhibiting. It is not always about making sales. Check out High Impact Pre-Show Planning(page 7 on the pdf) for a list of 100 reasons why a company might be exhibiting.
- Establish 2-4 SMART goals for each show. Too many and you will lose focus.
- Communicate these goals to your colleagues and get agreement/buy-in
- Post the goals somewhere in your booth so the exhibit staff sees them daily
- Discuss the goals each morning or shift change of the show
- Measure your goal achievement following the show and share with your colleagues
Booth design– Depending on the booth size, you have between 2–6 seconds to show an attendee walking by what you do and why they need to stop. Take a look at your display and ask the following questions.
- Does your messaging stand out?
- Can someone easily see what you do and have to offer?
- What pain point does your company address?
- What is your industry solution?
- Do you have too much text on your display?
- Is your messaging/text too small?
- Is your booth inviting to come into?
- If you have a linear booth (10x10, 10x20, etc.), do you have a table/s across the front which serves as a barrier between your staff and attendees? If so, consider moving it to the side to create a more inviting exhibit space/environment.
- Are you using the right amount of technology in your display?
- Are you using too much technology in your display?
- Do you have “eye candy” for the visitors in terms of equipment, tools or technology?
Your booth design and layout are very important. This is your brand’s first impression to a visitor. Don’t be cheap and don’t just do what you have always done. If you need to make changes, now is the time to do so.
Pre-Show Marketing– The job of event management is to promote the show to the industry and attract attendees. However, as an exhibitor, you also bear that responsibility. You know who your clients and prospects are and you need to let the industry know your company is exhibiting and invite them to your booth. If there is overlap in the event management promotion and exhibitor promotion, that is great! That plays into an integrated and redundant marketing strategy which works. Just as event management has an integrated marketing strategy, so should you and every other exhibitor.
Remember, give your audience strong, attractive messaging about why you are exhibiting and what you are announcing. Most of all, create a sense of urgency/exclusivity about experiencing your new technology. Tell them multiple times - repetition works!
So, what does that mean for your tradeshow promotion and what should you do?
- Social media marketing – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Create a short video/s about why your company is exhibiting and what you are showcasing
- Promote what you are exhibiting or announcing
- Print advertising– Take a full page or ½ page ad in industry publications in the month prior to the show. Use a “starburst” in the ad to indicate your booth number and the show where you are exhibiting
- Digital advertising– Utilize industry websites to place digital ads and/or use eNewsletters to promote your participation, and any new technologies/products you are announcing at the event. Use videos in your digital advertising
- Email marketing– Send email invitations to your clients and prospects. Tell them why they need to stop by your booth. Send them the link to your video
- Direct mail – How often do you receive mail at your office? Probably not much and what you do get you are probably reading. That said, be creative and think about what would make YOU want to go by someone’s booth at a show you are attending with:
- Something like a key they need to take to your booth at the show to open a “treasure chest” or something else. Make the prize something of value. Send this to your top 100 clients/prospects for a chance to win an Echo Dot, Echo Plus, or something they might not normally get themselves. Make it worth the booth visit!
- I heard a story where an exhibitor sent sunglass cases to their clients/prospects and told them to take the case by their booth and they could fill it with a high-end pair of shades. That might get someone’s attention!
- Phone campaign – Use a service like Callfire to record and send voicemails to clients’ office phones inviting them to your booth
- Email signatures – Create a graphic that your colleagues can place in their email signatures one month prior to the show highlighting the fact that your company is exhibiting and your booth number.
- Sponsor/advertise – Utilize show sponsorships and advertising, both pre-show and at-show. This helps attendees know that you are there and illustrates why they need to visit your booth.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful to you in planning for your upcoming show/s. Stay tuned for my next post on Training Your Booth Staff and Post Show.