At one point in time, tradeshows were THE place to be and if you were not present, there would be no way of promoting your company/brand. However, now with the internet, social media, emails, etc. tradeshows have lost their sparkle and tend to have less foot traffic than 10-15 years ago. So, this begs the question, do companies still need to attend tradeshows, and if so, how do you make the most out of attending?

Yes, tradeshows are still important to attend. They allow people who have never heard about you experience your company and what you have to offer. When attending any tradeshow, you need to make sure you maximize your investment. Oftentimes, companies invest in expos, tradeshows, and conferences with the expectation that they generate business. Unfortunately, there are common missteps and missed opportunities that usually prevent us from receiving the maximum benefit from our investment. To overcome some of these common missteps, you need a solid plan in place. This plan should include:

  • Goals
  • A theme
  • An offer
  • Marketing materials
  • Execution
  • Follow-up

Part of your plan should encompass everything needed pre-show. This includes evaluating potential events, establishing specific goals, creating a theme with an offer and marketing materials, and the exhibit. When evaluating potential events consider the audience, the environment, and the exposure. Only pick events that will help you tick the box in each category. Once the shows are picked, you need to come up with specific goals for each show. These goals should involve both tangible (quantity of leads, number of visitors, sales) and intangible goals (increased awareness, launch of new product, shortened sales cycle). A good way to measure ROI for service businesses would be to consider using the lifetime value of a client to determine your break-even or ROI point (fixed cost/average profit per sale = Sales needed).

Up next, you need to pick a theme for your event. This is the overall message and how you want to convey your company. Everything you do within your exhibit, your offer, and marketing should support this theme.

The second part of your plan should include everything that happens during the execution of the tradeshow. This would consist of setting up the booth and the sales process during the show. Setting up the booth should be derived from your theme and convey openness to allow people to easily engage. Developing a good sales process during the show is key. Your sales process should focus on efficiently identifying opportunities, positioning follow-up, and moving on so that you can meet as many people as possible. Consuming too much time with any one person is your worst enemy. There are many other helpful tips and tricks for setting up your booth and proper tradeshow floor etiquette in our Tradeshow Guide.

The last, and most important part of your plan should include your plan to follow-up with everyone you met or that stopped by the booth during the show. Surprisingly, most exhibitors do not follow-up with any of their leads, so this is an opportunity for you to get in front of them again without much competition. A good execution plan immediately follows-up with leads, meaning within two weeks or less from the event. To ensure your team is following up and doing a good job, try incentivizing them and making the follow up fun. Lastly, even if a lead is not ready to purchase right now, they may be in the future. Make sure all leads are entered into your CRM database and included on all future communications.

Key takeaways when planning and executing a tradeshow

  • Carefully evaluate each potential show based on audience, environment, and exposure to make certain the show aligns with your goals.
  • Make sure you have a solid plan that encompasses pre-show, during show, and post-show tactics.
  • Your theme should be chosen from the message you want to convey to your audience through all efforts surrounding the tradeshow.
  • Follow-up within two weeks of the event – no matter what.
  • Add leads into CRM database to continue communicating.

To dive into planning and executing a successful tradeshow, access the entire Tradeshow Guide by downloading it here.

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