No matter what stage of growth your business is in, participating as an exhibitor in trade shows can net amazing results for any company. However, just like any other advertising campaign, trade show marketing can be a huge waste of time, resources and money. The good news is that you are largely in control of your trade show exhibiting success. Follow these eleven tips to maximize your trade show exhibition results.
#1. Pair a Great Demo with a Great Pitch
Of course you want to demonstrate your product in a way that wows people who visit your booth, but what you have to say matters as well. Spend plenty of time effectively creating and rehearsing an amazing pitch.
Then, always be prepared to go off script. Expo attendees aren’t known for listening quietly while you speak. They’ll interrupt, ask questions and have you double back and repeat things. Once you’ve created your pitch, mine it for the most important catch phrases and taglines. If you find yourself straying from the pitch, take the time needed to tweak and perfect your work, so nothing gets left out.
#2. Maximize Your Chances of Making Connections
Don’t focus solely on the show attendees that visit your exhibit booth. There are networking possibilities all over large convention centers and smaller conference halls. If your expo includes an opening gala, make sure to attend. Get to know as many industry leaders as possible. It’s also smart to know your competition, introduce yourself to the other companies exhibiting at your trade show. Offer your unique industry knowledge to people around you that will find it useful. You will find that many people will do the same in return. Carve out some time to walk around the trade show hall. Find exhibit booth layouts that would interest people who would also be attracted to your products, and chat people up as they wait in line.
#3. Find Ways to Let Visitors Interact
If you can, have your product demos available for show attendees to touch, hold and interact with. The more you interact with exhibition visitors the easier it will be to keep them engaged. If it’s not feasible to have your actual product on hand, at least bring in a model or sample.
If it’s not logistically possible to have your products on hand, create an interactive experience using digital technology. For example, if you’re in the home improvement business, bring along a VR headset so that customers can ‘walk through’ your latest, custom interior project.
#4. Create Your Own Buzz
Popular trendy restaurants in cities always have long waits. It’s human nature that when people see a line, or hear about constant long wait times, they too will want to jump on the bandwagon. If you can find a way to create a line into your booth space, that tells show attendees you have the hot product or that your exhibit is the place to be, you’ll receive more attention at your trade show than ever imagined.
One way to accomplish this is to invite as many people as possible to come to the event and pose as interested visitors. The illusion of a crowded popular exhibit can quickly turn into a display booth that’s actually buzzing with life and activity.
#5. Welcome People Into Your Space
Consider this. If someone rings the doorbell and you’re happy to see them, what do you do? You invite them inside. If you want them to go away, they don’t make it past the front door. Don’t meet your customers at the door.
Many exhibitors make the mistake of placing their convention hall folding table across the front of their booth, creating a barrier feeling for the show attendees. It’s important to “leave the front of the booth open”, which simply means keeping your booth space open and inviting for guests to walk right in. If you have pamphlets or other items to give out, place them in a free-standing portable literature stand takes up a fraction of space compared to a large folding table.
Next, make the exhibit design inviting. Your branding should be visually appealing. Use attractive colors and unique images. Pay attention to popular branding trends such as LED backlit signage. Provide seating if you have space for a comfortable lounge area. Have coffee, tea, and water bottles available.
#6. Use Giveaways That Are Useful And Visible
Many people dismiss promo giveaways as cheap throwaways after the show, but there’s a reason that giveaway items and trade shows go hand in hand. They work. The trick is coming up with giveaways that are unique and a usable product that people need in their everyday lives.
Nobody needs another keychain, branded koozie, or basic pen. On the other hand, string backpack bags, insulated coffee mugs, and cell phone car chargers are very popular. Another category that’s starting to become a popular promo item is food, and edible items can work well too. Here’s another tip. If you do give away insulated mugs, have a drink dispenser and ice machine on hand. This will ensure your booth visitors fill up, and then carry your branded giveaway all over the convention, which means free exposure for you.
#7. Know When to Splurge on Real Estate
If you find the perfect annual exhibition for your company, often the best choice is to splurge your marketing dollars to obtain the best location for you exhibit space. Ideally, you’ll get enough prospects from only attending a select few trade shows while staying in budget. Just keep in mind that when it comes to your booth, real estate is everything. For example, if you upgrade from a standard 10×10 space located on the floor space back side, to a 10×10 corner booth space located in the front, the amount of foot traffic your exhibit will see dramatically increases. Being located in a corner space, guarantees floor traffic and visibility from two sides instead of just one.
Think hard about where you are trying to cut costs. It might be worth going over budget to have your booth placed right next to a VIP area, entertainment stage or popular lounging spot. Always try to select the best show floor location, it can easily mean double or triple the foot traffic.
#8. Consider Partnering With Complementary Brands
Easily obtain a complete list of exhibitors months before the show, to look for products or brands that complement yours. Then, simply reach out to their marketing team. See if there’s a way to combine your products or services in a way that will help both parties reach as many potential customers as possible.
If you cannot come up with a plan for working together at the show, you can still benefit by agreeing to send referral leads to each other during the show when possible. The more industry contacts you have at your trade show, the more possible benefits you may be rewarded.
#9. Be on Your Toes at Closing Time
How many times have you walked past a exhibit or brand of interest and made a mental note to double back and check it out later? Probably many times. It’s very likely that you’ll have a few show attendees show up to your display booth at the last minute, stating they’ve been meaning to stop by to get more information on your products and services. If your expo marketing team shuts down early because closing time is near, you’ll miss out on last minute leads that could have turned out to be your best lifelong clients.
#10. Make VIP Clients Feel Special
Trade shows provide great opportunities to reach out to potential new customers and business partners. They can also serve as a way to strengthen your relationships with your most valued clients. Remember that consumers look forward to these events just as much as exhibitors do.
Round up some extra tickets or event invitations. Then, pass them out to some of your most loyal clients. They’ll be grateful for your gift that shows great custom appreciation, and will be more than happy to attend any popular event. They’ll also be more likely to think of you when it comes to referrals.
#11. Don’t Waste Time Following Up
Quick follow up is always key. Don’t wait a month or longer to start contacting people. It’s human nature to quickly forget about events that store in your short term memory. To make sure this is prevented, only give people a couple of days to recover from the event, before you start reaching out.
Before starting your followups, sort your leads into relevant categories. Here is an example:
- Potential Partners
- Potential Clients – High Funnel
- Potential Clients – Mid Funnel
- Potential Clients – Low Funnel
- Existing Clients Ready to Upgrade
This allows you to target each contact with the right message. You might even choose to send some contacts directly to your sales representative that focuses on one call closes.
Getting the most out of your trade show marketing requires covering all of your bases. Always create an attractive and welcoming trade show booth. Focus on keeping visitors engaged as long as possible. Be prepared to reach out to the same show attendees as your competition. However, creative trade show graphics and promotional branding, combined with precise quick prospect follow up, will help guarantee you generate the largest return on your marketing investment as possible.