At least once in very marketer’s career, you’ve arrived with high hopes for a tradeshow that resulted in nothing but crickets all day. And the folks who did visit your booth were nice enough people, but just so happened to not be decision makers — they were event volunteers more interested in filling their bags with swag than getting to know anything about you or your product.
Yep, we’ve all been there at least once. Or let’s say you have no “in” with the event host, and while you certainly had their event on your radar, you somehow managed to let the early bird registration pass and got stuck with a booth way out in Nowheresville. And your rival is prominently situated near all the action — the mouth-watering dessert bar, or better yet, the actual bar!
So here you stand with less-than-appealing giveaways, in the middle of Nowheresville, with nothing more than the smiling event volunteers seeking your approval to fill their bags with another piece of swag. Whatever the case, you are probably ready to pack up early and head back to the office to salvage what’s left of your day, vowing to never again throw both time and money down the drain on a tradeshow.
Building the ideal tradeshow experience from conception to completion takes work, but we promise – if you build it, your prospects will come.
Here are some tips to a better tradeshow to get you started.
First, select the right shows. Not all tradeshows are created equal, and many won’t be the right fit for you. Some are no brainers — if you make farm machinery, you need to have a presence at farm-related events. But you also need to think outside the box. If you’re a travel agent, have you thought about setting up at a wedding show? Most of the attendees are not only looking for a caterer or florist, they also might need help planning their honeymoon.
Identify markets that represent the most potential for new business. And get feedback from your current customers and prospects to find out what shows they already attend.
Next, get on top of pre-show planning immediately. Create an event checklist for every detail, no matter how small. Choose your booth staff, taking into consideration their personalities (think extroverts!) and train them ahead of time. Determine how you will capture contact information and other data about your prospects.
Choose your booth location wisely, and design your booth experience. Could you do a live product demonstration, show a video, host a competition for prizes or otherwise make the experience interactive? Do you want to serve refreshments? And what about giveaways? You’ll want brochures and pens with your logo, sure, but what other items will make you memorable?
(Pro tip: When you’re designing your booth, don’t forget to include carpet with GOOD padding. Standing on non-padded carpet for 8 hours can feel as if you are standing on a concrete floor, and it’s a definite killer on your knees!)
Make the most of the event beyond the tradeshow floor. You’ll want to make a plan to promote your participation in the tradeshow, your website and social media. Assign someone to take photos at the show for use in future marketing efforts. Tweet often and leverage tweets for drawings and grand prizes.
As you book your travel, think about what other business you could attend to while on the road. If you’re driving, could you leave a day early and visit a client on the way? Or could you extend your stay in the show’s host city to visit a prospect you’ve already been eyeing?
No detail is too small on the day of the event. Have a Plan B if something goes wrong, such as if your banner gets damaged in transit or someone forgot to pack the tablecloth. Make sure everyone is clear on their roles for the day (or multiple days) of the show so you’ve got all bases covered.
Don’t be ashamed to brand yourself from head to toe — you are a walking billboard for your company! Don’t skip the workshops or meetings during the tradeshow. You can learn a lot in those sessions and even meet a potential client. Use the luncheon to your advantage and work the room. Don’t forget to visit the other exhibitors … they are potential customers, too.
Finally, follow up, follow up, follow up! If you don’t circle back with the prospects you met at the tradeshow, they will never become your customers. Analyze the data you gathered from the show and create a strategy to use it.
This all may sound overwhelming. We get it — there’s a lot that goes into a successful tradeshow. That’s why we’re here to help when extra hands are needed. As a project management firm, we speak three languages – Marketing, Research and Support. If you need us to translate how to ensure a success at your next tradeshow, just give us a shout. We are known for making a splash!
NAC is an expert at tradeshow planning and execution, ensuring no detail gets overlooked, and your time and money is well spent. Connect Forward with NAC and we’ll show you what real tradeshow success looks like!