Trade Show News: Best Practices for Trade Show Planning

December 17, 2016

Leeyen Rogers

Leeyen Rogers is the VP of Marketing at JotForm, a popular online form-building tool based in San Francisco.

Showcasing your company with a booth or display at a trade shows is an expensive affair. Don’t squander this potentially very valuable opportunity to meet new customers, gather leads and drive brand awareness with poor planning. Pulled off with flying colors, trade shows are an incredible opportunity to introduce relevant audiences to your product. How do you successfully achieve it? Well in short, you want to successfully deliver the message that your product will be the solution to a customer’s problem, or that they didn’t even know that they needed.

Here are the best practices for trade show planning that will help you reach those goals.

Send a pre-show mailing

Depending on your company’s goals, revenue strategy, and historical lead generation data, you may want to send pre-show mailing to high-value clients. Snail mail is not dead, but it can be expensive and a crowded space. This is why your recipients must be properly screened as potential high-value clients. Even if your company offers a free plan, your targeted recipients would probably benefit from a paid plan and be likely to make the purchase. When used properly, your company’s mailing will be attention-grabbing, communicate a memorable value proposition, and give a clear call to action.

Contact the trade show’s management team

The trade show’s management team has a stake in your company having a successful trade show experience. Take advantage of their expertise and advice by contacting them in advance. Perhaps they can give you some tips to develop an appealing booth, and point you in the right direction as far as marketing opportunities and partnerships go. They may be able to advise you on top location options, how receptive certain tactics were in the past, etc.

Rally behind one clear message

Trade shows can be a blur of cookie-cutter, boring companies that do this or do that, and your company will unfortunately be lost in the crowd if you do not make a concerted effort to make a lasting impression. Everything from the placement of your logo (which should be unobstructed and clear), your message, and how your booth managers interact with attendees needs to be part of the same cohesive strategy. Booth representatives as well as the marketing collateral on the booth should be able to sum up your company in a few words, and all materials and giveaways should help drive that same message home.

Establish a clear call-to-action

Companies that exhibit at trade shows have different motives and top priorities. Perhaps your goal is to gather as many leads as possible. Or, you’d like to increase brand awareness with the target demographic who will be attending the trade show. Networking and meeting potential investors and opportunities for partnerships can also be a motivation. Whatever your goal happens to be, you need to formulate a strategy around your specific call-to-action.

If your focus is on gathering leads, then you can push attendees to give out their contact information. There are ways to make this easier, such as working with trade show management to see if they have an event app that you could benefit from. You could have a bowl for business card collection, and have an iPad set up ready to collect information. If your call-to-action is brand awareness, then exhibit design and displays have an added importance of enticing people to come into your company’s space so that they can learn about it in a fully branded environment.

Follow up while the skillet is hot

Trade shows tend to be one of the more expensive ways to gather leads, so every lead is more valuable. The follow up needs to happen when the lead is the most engaged- which is as soon as possible. They’ve talked to many people at the event, and have seen and learned about many companies. You want to make contact early, hopefully beating out the masses of companies trying to do the same, while the person is the most likely to remember what your company is about. Ideally, you would also mention a detail that was discussed in the conversation, or how your product can help their company specifically.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.