Trade Show Visitors

Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 2

In part one of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events”, we covered the importance of selecting the right events that match up well for your business and how to plan for them to maximize your opportunities. In this part two edition, we will highlight the components that address team preparation, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.

Create a winning team that makes your company shine

Committing to a trade show, conference or event means you have an investment in it which requires the right team of people to represent your company. You’ll need to have a well-balanced team consisting of those that have good customer service and selling skills, technical acumen, and an ability to interact with visitors. The last thing you want to do is assign someone to attend who is scared out of their mind to meet people. And, don’t just send your sales people without first defining their roles and responsibilities. In fact, your entire team needs to know exactly what is expected of them and what the objectives are for participating in the chosen event.

Remember, attending an event isn’t a free vacation – it requires preparation beforehand and attentiveness while at the event. Prepare your team by getting them excited about representing your company and enthusiastic about the opportunity of engaging with prospects to generate business opportunities.

Visitor engagement 

At most trade shows, aisle traffic can be heavy and scheduled times for exhibit hall openings can result in a flurry of activity that is short lived. Because of this, you will want to be fully prepared and ready to engage with visitors to determine who is a prospect and who needs to be encouraged to keep moving. Wasting time on non-prospects means you are missing opportunities to spend time with those who need your solution offering or product. To avoid this scenario, quickly assess a visitor through a few qualifying questions to determine what to do next. Do it professionally and with courtesy as some visitors may represent partnership opportunities, become future prospects or result in good media contacts.

For those that pass your qualifying criteria, have an action plan in place for next steps. Capture this in your CRM system so that follow-up plans are properly executed. You’ll want to do this for all of your visitors so that your CRM status codes indicate whether a visitor is a non-lead, prospect, partner, media contact, etc.


It's more than a trade show - harvest the opportunities

Take advantage of the entire event beyond your exhibit. Trade shows normally coincide with a conference that includes educational break-out sessions and many networking opportunities. These represent great ways to meet those who may not stop by your exhibit. The food court is another place to mingle with others and introduce yourself while taking a break from your booth responsibilities. Many times, great conversations take place at break-out sessions, special networking events and in the food court. Don’t miss these opportunities. Put together a scheduled plan to attend these as time permits while at the trade show or event.

Follow-up for succcess and reap the rewards

Getting the most out of trade shows and events boils down to your post-show follow-up plan. An alarming high percentage of trade show leads are never followed up. It’s very easy to return from an event exhausted with a shifted focus on catching up in the office instead of executing a follow-up plan. Without a system or plan in place, it’s not hard to understand why this occurs. But, it doesn’t have to be this way and you should never find yourself in this situation.

Too much time and effort have already been invested by your company to forsake this process. A follow-up plan must be developed that clearly indicates what will occur with every contact met at your event - - including who will do it, when and why. Because you captured your contacts at the event with your CRM, you will already have their statuses and be on your way to implementing an effective follow-up plan.

This activity is where your potential pay-off will occur. This is where you will determine if your event was worthwhile and if your investment will generate a healthy return. This is where it all happens to ensure you get the most out of your trade shows and events.

GE Booth

Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 1

Every spring and fall, the trade show and event season gears up with a flurry of activity, hype and promise. It’s an easy trap to fall into with the lure of event venues, popular keynote speakers and even the pressure to “be there” because your competition will be. But, before you jump right in, take the time to determine how trade shows can be a strategic marketing component for your business and then decide how best to approach them.

The right show with the right audience
Determining which shows make sense for your business will require some effort on your part. Research those that match up well with your buying market so that you can decide what type of presence is necessary for your company. Take into consideration opportunities beyond exhibiting such as landing a spot as a speaker and strategically participating in networking sessions throughout the event. Don’t just go to a show, throw up a booth and expect instant success. Be smart and selective.

An action plan with clearly stated goals
Once you have identified the trade shows that match up well with your offerings, define your show objectives early on and use those objectives as the drivers for everything you do in preparation and execution of your trade show presence. This includes agreeing on what you hope to accomplish, how you will meet your goals and the measurements necessary to ensure the objectives are met. Your action plan will help keep you focused on the primary goal of participating in the target event.

Gain visibility and be known
With your initial plans in place for your trade show, you’ll want to turn your attention to promotion opportunities available to boost your show visibility. Through pre-show mailers, e-blasts and at-show promotions, your company will have several opportunities to make attendees aware of your participation. Give them a reason to visit your booth, attend your presentation session and meet with you at the networking events.

The 3 second rule
When planning for your exhibit display, keep in mind that you have only 3-5 seconds to capture the attention of those walking the aisles. Visually stunning graphics with a few key message points will help make the connection to those you want to draw into your display area. Attempting to tell your entire business story on a booth is a mistake – leave that error to your competitors! And, plan an exhibit that is inviting, open and free-flowing. This will allow for a more pleasant visitor experience.

Trinkets and trash are for amateurs
Why spend money on giveaways that will end up in the trash or given to the family dog to chew up after the show? Choose giveaways with a purpose and that reflect well on your company and brand. Make it relevant and meaningful to your business. Cheap stuff of inferior quality will not bode well. Go with substance that makes a great first impression.

Part 2 of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events” will cover team preparations, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.

Feel free to share this on your favorite social media sites and email it to a colleague or friend.   

Have you ever attended a trade show that was just absolutely 'over the top'? I still recall a show in Las Vegas several years ago that was undeniably first rate. It was actually a software company's annual conference, but it included numerous exhibitors and some of the normal trade show flair. The event included very well done exhibits, excellent conference sessions, plenty of food, entertainment - the list goes on. They even brought in the famed Doobie Brothers for two free concerts at the Hard Rock Cafe. Can't beat that.

While discussing the event with a colleague after returning from the conference, neither of us could find the right word to describe it. Finally, he nailed it - Galactic! Bigger and almost better than life.

Even though you may not be able to influence your next trade show beyond your company's exhibit, you can make your visitor's experience 'galactic'. Focus on doing everything right from your booth design to those who will be in your booth interacting with visitors.

You may also benefit from engaging the services of a trade show expert like Julia O'Connor. She provides
online trade show training to ensure you maximize your show experience. This takes into account all of the components from pre-show planning to post-show follow-up - - and the all-important in-between tactics that need to be organized, planned and properly executed.

And, ensuring that your exhibit provides an engaging message to show attendees is critical toward your success.
Skyline Exhibits & Design does an excellent job at determining what kind of exhibit is right for your company and then designing that exhibit for your display needs.

Don't cut corners and fail to plan for your trade show marketing. Simply showing up in your booth and watching aisle traffic will result in nothing more than disappointment. You can have a galactic experience with your next trade show if you plan, strategize and execute well. And, you'll be very pleased with the ROI.

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