It is often the case the companies spend a lot of money exhibiting at trade shows. Depending on how well planned out the event is, it can be a wonderful investment or a giant waste of time and resources. A trade show is a great way for a company to meet very targeted prospective clientele. A few things I have learned about making the most of trade shows are the following:
1. Stand Out – Make your booth stand out in some way rather than just sleek design, make it noticeable and different than other booths you have seen before or anticipate seeing at the upcoming tradeshow. Make yourself the “buzz” because of creativity or wackiness. It is better to go all out than to go with a lackluster effort where the show ends up being counterproductive.
2. Give a reason for foot traffic to stop and engage. Incentives help, no doubt, but make sure that whatever the offering is compelling enough that an objective “you yourself” would stop as well.
3. Have a means to obtain leads easily. This is getting easier every year with information capturing devices and systems but make sure this is always in place.
4. Although these information capturing systems are wonderfully efficient, never underestimate the power of personal interaction over electronic marketing. Too often exhibitors fall back on the electronic information gathering technique which is quick and easy. What I don’t understand is that we all know what the typical conversion rate of email marketing is and I can’t imagine companies would be satisfied with the ROI of those hard-earned leads. Make sure to get to know anyone you can as well as you can. Make their conversation with you not about your product unless they are bringing it up. Ask questions to get to know them personally and understand their business. It is in that conversation that you should discover a fit with your product.
5. Set specific times to follow up on any interested prospects. It is so easy to say “Good meeting you . . . I will call you sometime next week.” You lose precious momentum and accountability that way. Sometime a little organization on your part will go a long way for them. If the prospect says, “Oh, I am not sure what my schedule looks like next week. Just give me a call some time,” don’t give in there. You might follow that with, “Hey, Tom, I know you probably will have a packed schedule catching up from this. I will too. In order for us to be efficient and continue this conversation while it is fresh in our minds, why don’t we tentatively set something up for next Wednesday at 3:30 PST? That way we have something in place that is in front of us and we can move it around if we need to.” Then send them an email meeting invitation immediately.
6. Stay in front of your leads if you do not set up immediate personal follow up. Take advantage of effective and occasional direct mail to stay atop their minds in your respective marketplace.