Trade shows have always represented major investments for companies, especially for capital equipment manufacturers that need to ship large machines to the conference site. With newer, more effective ways to reach out to customers, trade shows have lost their shine in the eyes of some marketers. However, shaking hands and talking to your customers face-to-face is still not something that can be replicated in the online world, try as we might. The question then becomes how to approach trade shows so that the time and investment is well worth it for your company. Our five tips for today explore how you can make the most out of your trade show marketing.
1. Do the research
We know. We always want you to research things. In the case of trade shows, however, this is really important. What point is there in exhibiting at a trade show if your customers aren’t there? That’s a lot of time and money that you are spending to stand in front of a disengaged crowd. Make sure that the conference or trade show is properly managed and that it has the potential to provide you with real leads.
2. Give people reasons to visit your booth
It is assumed that you will be exhibiting at a trade show in order to do some selling. If an attendee is not in the mood for a hard sell, they are not going to stop by your company’s booth. How can you motivate people to visit you? There are numerous ways this can be accomplished. Many companies use give-aways but this is such a common approach it probably will not be enough to differentiate you unless it is extremely unique. One idea we have proposed over the years is to invite people to visit your booth so they have a chance to record a very short video about their experience at the trade show. People love to see themselves on camera (whether that is admitted or not), and seeing their video on your website can be fun and a great way to drive traffic to your site after the show. Think outside the box.
3. Qualify your leads
If your booth is busy, it can be extremely easy to just assume that everyone whose badge you scan is a “lead.” This is not true, and this is another reason why offering give-aways can be a complicating factor. A person who wants your pen is not the same thing as a person who may buy from you in the future. Try to make sure there is a company-wide understanding of how a trade show lead is defined. Is it someone who picks up a sample or someone who asks at least one question?
4. Invite your social media community to visit you “in real life”
If you are active on social media platforms, a trade show can present a fantastic opportunity to meet some members of your community face-to-face. A nice gesture is to post pictures of your employees with Facebook “fans” who visit to your Facebook page. This can mean a lot to the people visiting you and it also shows your Facebook community that you are not just trying to increase your fan volume. You are really taking note of people who support you.
5. Have a plan for following up
Once the trade show is over and you have returned to your office, you want to jump into the task of following up with your leads and catching up on your daily work. Before anyone goes to the trade show, your company should have a follow-up plan so that the transition from trade show to post-trade show strategy can be seamless. There are, again, numerous ways to approach this part of the trade show process. Thanking individuals from your Facebook community on your company page can be an easy thing to do. Perhaps you could mail a company white paper to people whom you believe are qualified leads. Whatever your company decides to do, this is something the sales and marketing team should work on together.
As with so many things in marketing, trade shows will only give back to you what you put in. Understanding your objectives, how you will follow up, and how you will qualify leads can help ensure your experience will be a successful one.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylewith/7195677576/ via Creative Commons