Samuel J. Smith
Samuel J. Smith, the founder of SocialPoint, is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology.
Exhibiting at trade shows – how hard can it be? You just show up and talk to people, right? Actually, exhibiting is surprisingly harder than it looks. That said, trade shows still remain very popular (and even keep growing) because they can produce great results when done right.
If you’re exhibiting for the first time, we want to help shorten your learning curve with these eight tips you need to succeed:
1. Know what your goals are for exhibiting
Everything you do at trade shows should support your main sales and marketing goal. So, if you don’t know why you’re exhibiting, there’s no way to succeed. Discover or decide if your trade show goals are (most likely) to boost brand awareness, generate sales leads or strengthen key relationships, or something else (good advice, even if you are not a first-time trade show exhibitor).
2. Design your trade show exhibit to achieve your goals
See how important knowing your goals are? Now you can design your booth to support your sales and marketing goals. Design big branding structures and graphics for building awareness, lots of workstations for sales leads and meeting spaces for strengthening reseller, prospect and client relationships. Some exhibitors design booth spaces for all buying phases in one large exhibit.
3. Use promotions to drive traffic and help visitors remember you
Promotions, whether they are interactive activities or giveaways or entertainment, entice attendees to visit your booth, give your booth staffers a way to start a dialog and help attendees remember you after the show. Pick trade show giveaways that are of different value levels to fit each lead’s value, can be imprinted with your logo and are useful to your target market.
4. Capture the right attendee lead data
Even for first-time trade show exhibitors, the most valuable outcome of trade shows is the leads they take in their booth. You can make your leads even more valuable when your booth staffers and lead management systems are aligned to capture attendee data that will matter to your sales force.
5. Consider a game to boost trade show results
According to trade show industry research, interactive games are one of the best ways to attract attendees, but one of the least used – giving you an opportunity to outshine your competitors. A trade show game can increase booth traffic, help booth staffers start conversations, generating more leads and sales, and boosting your trade show ROI.
6. Plan for technology and its content in your booth
It’s official: Millennials are the largest generation in the United States workforce. That’s perhaps the most compelling reason why most trade show exhibitors integrate technology into their exhibit design and attendee engagement. So, take some time to plan how you will use tech in your booth and how you will create content to run on that technology. Just make sure you don’t use tech for tech sake, but instead choose tech that is easy for staffers and attendees to use and enhances your in-booth conversations.
7. Follow up fast on your trade show leads
Your trade show leads are worth more than their weight in gold and quickly lose their value over time, so follow up on your leads quickly! It’s easily the biggest mistake exhibitors make, new or veteran. Quickly get the materials appropriate to each lead post-show and quickly get your best leads into the hands of the right salespeople.
8. Measure and report your trade show results to management
Trade shows cost a lot of money – they can often be the largest marketing expense for a B2B company. Your boss and your Chief Financial Officer are eager to hear how well your first show (and all subsequent shows) produced results, so you need to measure if you met your trade show goals, and then give your boss a short report with easy-to-understand charts and pictures.
I am excited for you as first-time trade show exhibitors. There is nothing like the rush you will get from meeting face-to-face with a stream of customers and prospects over several days. Do the show right and you will create significant value for your company. Good luck!
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