1. Assess Your Engagement Strategy:
Just like a first date, it is important to think about your opening line. It is 100% true what they say, FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST. So what is the lasting impression you intend to give to represent your brand, your business?
- A witty open ended question to start a conversation?
- A promotional giveaway or fun game to capture the interest of every passer-by?
- A product demo to engage only true prospects who witness the product benefits?
Show planning is not just about how shiny and bright your exhibition stand can be, it is just as much about how your on-stand team engage with attendees. Start planning your pre-show and at-show promotions long before the show so that you can train your team on how to best engage the right trade show visitors.
2. Determine How You Will Retrieve Leads and Measure Success:
What metric will determine whether a show was a success or not? Usually some form of sales lead metric is the lifeblood of trade show R.O.I. (return on investment). A careful balance between quantity and quality is the key, so depending on which side of that scale you require, your method for capturing leads can vary.
- Old fashioned business card collection
- Use a smartphone app
- Use the exhibition’s supported lead scanning system
- Tie in to your businesses CRM (customer relationship management system)
3. Who do you need to invite?
Email your database and tell your social media audience to let them know you are exhibiting at the event. Every trade show these days will provide you with templated event banners, flyers and email signatures that you can use to promote your involvement. Make sure you include the products & services you will displaying, plus any information you might want to share about the show promotions you will be offering. You can even offer your followers an incentive by turning up and showing you the email or post for something special.
4. Find Free Promotional Opportunities
Discuss and probe your trade show contact for all of the additional promotional opportunities that they can provide. You can often negotiate them in to your trade show package costs, or even acquire some opportunities as a partnership in exchange for some prizes, or contra services. Often if you are running a competition or have a unique engagement activation on your stand the trade show organisers will be just as keen to promote it as you are.
5. Be a Thought Leader
Whilst planning your key messages for the trade show consider taking a strong view on an issue that is gathering buzz in your industry. Speaking out on a hot issue could give you the opportunity to speak more broadly on a trade show’s main stages. This strategy takes a bit more preparation and effort, but if you can contact the trade show’s management in advance and convince them you have something valuable to offer, you’ll be on your way to additional touch points for your stand at any trade show.
If you do have the chance to speak, be sure to avoid promoting your product or company, as it can cause you to lose credibility. Be informative. Offer the audience something of real value. If you have the opportunity at the end, encourage those listening to come talk to you one-on-one.