So you decide to exhibit at a trade show. Your competitors have exhibited there and you know your products (or services) are just as good as theirs, if not better, and you want some of that action. You rent a 10-foot exhibit space, a table and chairs, maybe a simple structure for a backdrop or a generic “show hall special.” That was easy. Let the show begin. Your products are good and competitively priced. They’re almost able to sell themselves. They’d better be.
Trade Shows DON’T Work Without You
Attendees file through the aisles and only a few have stopped at your trade show exhibit to ask about your company and products. They turned into solid leads, but there are just too few to justify exhibiting. The ROI just isn’t there.
Trade Shows ARE Work
Trade shows are competitive marketing environments. From an attendee’s point of view, they can be visual Pop Rocks as exhibitors clamor to be noticed. With their attention sliced so thin, why would they take any initiative to speak with you if it wasn’t readily apparent that you, potentially, have what they are looking for? It takes thought and execution to make trade shows work – planning in advance, setting your objectives, appropriately presenting your message and brand, staffing the trade show booth with the right people and a lead follow-up strategy.
Trade Shows DO Work
Do them well and reap the rewards! It sounds simple, but do these four things well and your trade shows will work:
1. Determine Objectives: What are you after? Leads? Sales? Exposure? All of the above? What does success look like? Determine that and work toward it.
2. Design Your Exhibit: It’s not just a backdrop, it’s a billboard. Show attendees who you are and how you can help them. Keep it simple, clear and readable.
3. Staff The Booth: Ditch the chairs, the chat, the cheeseburgers and work the aisle. Be open, welcoming and engage attendees at eye level.
4. Lead Follow Up: Do this! You go through all the effort to generate leads, so get them into the appropriate hands and follow up. The sooner, the better. If you don’t, your competitors may win by default.
To go beyond showing up and setting up, read the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper. This guidebook reveals effective strategies for everything from show selection to exhibit design and many other keys areas.
About the Author: Steve Jahr is Marketing Communications Manager at Skyline Exhibits. Based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, he has over 20 years of trade show marketing experience.