Venturing into the world of tradeshows can be an expensive experiment if you’re not prepared to optimize it. Many are blown away by the cost of just participating and focus on the space they need to fill – tradeshow design. However, adding a few tactics before, during and following the show will make your investment return a lot higher.
Leading up to the Show
Attendees may be clients, prospects, suppliers or strategic alliances. Maybe contacts you’ve never met in person. Drive people to your booth by letting them know you’re going to be there and invite them to come by the booth. Put together an e-mail campaign and send it to the list of people that you think are likely to be there. Invite them to come and simply say hello, or entice them with a contest or a give-away. Hint at an unveiling or new service.
Investigate who else might be there and what they’re looking for. Make sure your message and tradeshow design will catch their interest. You can plan your talking-points, offers and materials accordingly.
Good tradeshow design will include brand imagery and colours associated with you, or seen in your invite so people can spot you easily. If you can place an ad in the program, make sure that matches your tradeshow design.
At the Show
I know the space, booth and tradeshow design costs a lot of money but you also need to give visitors something to take away. While they may genuinely be interested, they’ll see many booths and can quickly forget you. Have brochures, sell sheets, branded swag or white papers to hand out at the booth.
The booth should be generic if you intend to use it at different kinds of tradeshows, but sell sheets and brochures can be printed in small quantities inexpensively, so you can customize your message or select materials relevant to the attendees of the show. Part of your overall tradeshow design should include how to display these.
To keep their interest: can you give a seminar or demo at your booth? Is there something visitors can interact with?
One of the most important things is to prepare your booth attendees – they should know how to express your brand and understand the audience. Make sure they know your goals and are trained how to engage interested prospects and guide them to the next step (ie: sell something right there or arrange a consultation appointment?). Make sure the tradeshow design includes easy next steps too.
After the Show
‘After’ is misleading because you need to start at the show but you need broad and focused follow-up plans.
Broad: at the show, invent a way to collect business cards. An oldie but goodie is a contest – works well if you give away a good prize, like an iPad. Include a little note that you will contact them by email after, so by entering their card they are giving you permission. Within a few days, send them an email blast with value related to the show’s focus. I recommend you don’t make is salesy but certainly include a call-to-action like ‘contact John for more information’.
Focused: if your booth people have a good conversation with a warm prospect, they need a system for making notes and then following up personally. Plan time immediately after the show to do so. There can be a pre-planned email written up that includes elements of the broad plan, but include a personal note that references something from the conversation, like their interests or any next steps discussed.
Call hot prospects ASAP of course. The follow-ups should reflect the tradeshow design.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Yes, all of these things add time and money to an expensive marketing tactic. It will seem especially daunting and risky to first-timers, but if you don’t do these things and include professional tradeshow design, it will appear to be unsuccessful and then you won’t do it again.
If you’re going to do it, do it right with great tradeshow design, good planning, engagement and follow-up. Get in touch and ask me how we can help.