If you’re going to trade shows just to keep your booth space from being taken away by new competition, you’re going for the wrong reason. The right reason to go to a trade show is to win new business. By setting goals beforehand, executing a solid game plan at the show, and following up appropriately post-show, you can stand apart from the competition rather than be a mere presence.
Setting Goals and Pre-Event Planning
You often hear trade show participants complain that they’re not getting enough foot traffic, that their booth is in a bad spot, that the quality of attendees is poor, or that there aren’t enough sales-ready buyers on the floor. These complaints may be legitimate, but not nearly as many of them would be made if more trade show participants set specific sales goals marketed themselves before the event.
Pre-event planning is what makes a successful event. In addition to mapping out event logistics, you’ve got to set goals, send out e-mail invitations and e-blasts, set up landing pages that feature compelling calls to action, set appointments prior to the show, and develop a post-event follow-up plan if you want to get a high return on your investment and make participating in a trade show worthwhile.
Developing and Executing a Game Plan
Your pre-event planning should also entail developing a game plan for successful event participation. To develop your game plan, ask questions such as:
- What do I want to promote during the show?
- Can I promote something new or make an existing product or service seem new?
- What do the prospects with whom I’ve made appointments and other attendees want to see?
- Is my team prepared enough to deliver both an elevator pitch and a more detailed sales pitch?
- How are visitors going to interact with my booth?
- Will there be touch screens or iPads they can use to access information freely?
- What am I going to give away?
- What brochures, flyers and other pieces of collateral will add value to my booth?
- Do I want to hold a drawing?
- How will visitor data be collected and easily integrated into my CRM?
Following up with Prospects and Leads Post-Event
If you follow up with prospects and leads immediately after the trade show, you will have a much greater chance of winning significant sales than if you wait to contact them until much later. Part of pre-event planning is planning how you’ll reach out to prospects and leads after the show. Most salespeople simply pick up the phone and make calls. Calling is great, but if you prepare things like strategic post-event e-marketing campaigns and collateral before the event and then deliver them immediately afterwards, you’ll have a much better chance of creating brand recognition and being remembered when you do call.
Being perceived as an on-the-ball contact that is truly prepared to take on new business and act as a real partner will always be to your benefit. Take initiative before your next trade show and prepare, prepare, prepare, and you’ll see a payoff that your competitors who are doing little more than taking up space just won't see.