Make the Most of Your Trade Show Dollars

This is the time of the year where many companies decide which trade shows to attend and exhibit. There are many things that you can do at a trade show to make your booth and your product or services stand out from the crowd. Prior planning is one of the most important measures you can take to ensure that you have a great trade show. Here are a few tips for you to think about before your next show.

Have some giveaways to attract conversation and business cards: First, what can you offer of high enough dollar-value to attract people to your booth? When you can’t talk to everyone at the show, what giveaway will capture attention? Consider something that will interest a wide variety of people, such as a massage or tickets to a popular, local event. If you’re really creative, you can partner with a restaurant or hotel, for example, and give away a free night’s stay or a meal as the prize (publicity for that company and it cost you nothing!) Accompany the prize with an incentive related to your business; for example, a free, one hour consulting session or the book you wrote.

Memory aids: You will be meeting a lot of people at a show. Be sure to write a note on the back of each business card where a conversation takes place so you can recall the details more easily. Do you want to be a sales extraordinaire? Write “A” or “B” to signify who the best prospects are to yourself! Your top 10 will require little thought of the conversation, post-show, because you will have taken copious notes, real-time! Some may argue that you don’t want to collect business cards for the sake of it, however, with the proper filing of those business cards, remember, you can discern “A” priority prospects from the rest.

Consider your purpose: As you have conversations with prospects, consider what information you want to gather. A trade show is a chance to gain information to follow up with an especially warm call since you’ve done some fact finding at the show. What questions will you ask of the prospects, and how are you training your trade show colleagues to ask those questions and present your compelling advantages?

Plan a follow up strategy: About 80 percent of trade show conversations are never followed up with. Even if you only send an e-mail, you’ve already distinguished yourself by being in the 20 percent category.

If more than one person from your company is attending the show, plan ahead on how to divide the prospect calls when you return. Assign someone to put all the business card information into a contact management system right away so calls, emails and other marketing can start immediately. For those of you with a smart phone, the phrase “there’s an app for that” couldn’t be more accurate! For less than $10, you can find an app that allows you to take a picture or scan a business card that can then be added to a list and exported from Excel.

Do you really want to stand out and see an ROI? Consider MarketReach to further engage all prospects and get maximum impact from the thousands of dollars you spent to make the trade show successful! Trade show follow up is one of our specialties and we are excellent at it.

Even if you don’t have a regular newsletter, make sure you send out a thank you e-mail after the event. It should thank the person for stopping by the booth, announce the raffle winner(s), and present a couple of paragraphs or bullet points about the benefits of your service. Also consider adding YouTube and website links, and of course, your social media links. Plan this post-event email before the show so it’s ready to go two days after it has ended.

Fellow exhibitors could be your best prospects: It’s very important to consider a marketing plan for the other exhibitors at the show, both pre-show and post-show. In addition to direct business, there may also be strategic alliance opportunities. Exhibitors have already proven they have the dollars to take booth space so there is also a good possibility that they can do business with you! The best time to talk to other exhibitors is before visitors arrive, so plan to arrive early and make your rounds.

Trade shows are expensive and time-consuming. By planning ahead you will be able to make the most of your experience, and sales will roll in. Above all else, be sure to follow up post-show!