I’ve previously written about trade show dos and don’ts and the important role these events can play in your agency’s marketing efforts. Today I’m going to go a step further and break down 9 factors to address to make the most of any trade show you’re attending.
Pre-Show Planning & Marketing
Attendee/Lead List – Which of your clients are attending? Are there any leads that you’re currently working on? What competitors will be at the show? If the show doesn’t supply you with an attendee list before the show, look into creating your own contact list of clients and leads to invite to the show using your existing customer database/CRM system.
Booth Space – Location. Location. Location. Select a booth space that will help optimize walking traffic and highlights your booth. Gauge the size of the show and make sure to bring enough marketing materials/collateral. Larger shows with more opportunity may warrant a giveaway or raffle to help engage more customers.
Logistics – Confirm travel, lodging, equipment, shipping, etc. to make sure everything will be copasetic when you arrive. You want to focus 100% of your energy on customers once you hit the floor, so it’s essential the logistics are handled beforehand. If you can manage it, have a point person at the office who can trouble shoot any issues that arise.
During the Trade Show
Client & Vendor Meetings – Reach out to clients, prospects or vendors that are attending the show and try to set meetings outside of exhibit hours. Some shows have the show floor open for 1-2 hours out of the day, so optimize your time in other ways.
Lead Collection – How are you going to collect contact information? What is going to incentivize an attendee to give you their email address? The main purpose of the show is to generate leads and drive business, so make lead collection a high priority for everyone at your booth. Make sure you are collecting all the information you need to update records in your CRM system and not wasting good leads by not getting a phone number or email.
Classes & Seminars – Some of the best networking at a trade show takes place during the educational sessions. It’s also a great opportunity to stay on top of the hot topics in the specialized industries you serve. Investigate potential speaking opportunities and become a thought leader in the industry you’re serving.
Post Show Results & Follow Up
Post Show Lead List – Update your attendee list with any new contacts you met at the show. Take the time to scrub the list and classify each account in the correct stage of the sales cycle. Input all account and contact information into your CRM system ASAP and schedule out follow up tasks appropriately.
Show Results – How many concrete leads did you get? How much exposure did your agency earn? Simply put, you have to determine if the juice was worth the squeeze. Develop a system to analyze the quantitative and qualitative results and determine if a show is worth the time and money spent to attend. If not, is there something you can change to make it worth while or is it a show you are going to scrap altogether?
Plan Ahead – Don’t wait to lay the groundwork for next year’s trade show. If the show results say this event was a success, register and reserve your booth sooner rather than later. Some shows even have booth reservations during the last day of the show! The sooner you act, the more likely you’ll be to get prime booth real estate. Get the show on the calendar and schedule a planning meeting a few months in advance to make sure you get everything perfect.
Continuously analyzing and improving your trade show plan can help you optimize your time, money, and overall marketing success!
By: Tim Woitach