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6 Steps to Trade Show Success

Posted March 27, 2014
3 minute read

Trade show season is upon us and lots of money will be spent by participating companies. This article provides 6 steps to send your trade show results through the roof.

Step 1 – Decide what you want to achieve

Trade shows can achieve many things. Do you want to introduce a new product, build brand awareness, make sales, generate leads, or simply build your database? In my experience trade shows can be a great way to build your database of contacts for future marketing and lead nurturing. Whatever it is you want to achieve, make note of it and build your trade show marketing plan around your goals.

Step 2 – Do some prep work

Getting the right individuals or the right kind of people to your booth is key to success. Do some pre-show marketing by sending out an email blast or two to your database offering something special when they visit your booth. Make a few entertaining posts on Facebook and/or Linked In about visiting your booth. Link people back to a landing page in your website where you can communicate a special message. If there are specific prospects you are nurturing in your pipeline, send a personal invitation to them and have a special gift when they arrive. If Step 2 is the only thing you did, you’ll likely be thrilled with your trade show activity.

Step 3 – What’s going to make you special?

One of my favorite quotes (by Jack Welch, former GE CEO) is “if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” So, what’s going to make you “special”, give you a competitive advantage at the trade show without breaking the bank? Doing something special and/or having something interactive can do the trick. Don’t just have good food or good candy to give out. That won’t get you much other than people coming by your booth for lunch or snacks. A few years ago we rented a Money-Machine, put real money in it and lots of fake money so it looked like there was fortune in there. To get into the Money-Machine people had to register including their email address and company info. People flocked to our booth, everybody had fun and we built our database of contacts. So, get creative and do something unique and memorable.

Step 4 – Get your people ready

Trade show experts agree the top thing people remember is not your cool booth but rather your awesome staff. Think about the goals you want to achieve and estimate how many people will come through your booth. Then, recruit the right people and enough of them to achieve the goals you’ve established. Make sure your “elevator speech” rolls off their tongues as naturally as their names, practice qualifying questions, and assign roles including the “reverse show” role (described next).

Step 5 – Reverse Show tactics

“Reverse show” tactics are when someone on your team “works” the trade show outside of your own booth…that is, he wonders throughout the exhibit area doing two things; 1) checking out the other trade show exhibitors as sales prospects for your company, and 2) checking out the competition. As stated in Step 4, assign to your people the role of “reverse show” with the goal of identifying a targeted number of prospects and assessing the competition. Be cautious Don't loose steam.

Step 6 – Persevere

Trade shows can be hard work and draining experiences – standing on concrete floors all day sometimes for multiple days. But hang in to the end. Someone who is a very good prospect probably wants some quality time with prospective vendors and doesn’t want to fight the crowds during the core hours of the show. He might be wondering around toward the end. If you look like you can’t wait to tear down your booth, this prospect might be asking “is this the type of person I want to do business with?” So, hang in there as a way to show the marketplace (and your competition) you are a committed company.

Don’t make a meaningful trade show investment without the right planning – setting specific goals, executing a strong pre-show marketing plan, and getting the right staff involved. Get creative about doing something special at the show that makes you stand out. Don’t forget the “reverse show” strategy and hang in to the end as a way to show the commitment and professionalism of your brand.

Topics Sales, Online Marketing, Marketing Automation

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