Preparing for Successful Trade Shows
It’s easy to get caught up in the present moment of trade shows and forget to establish a foundation for success. Creating effective exhibition displays using attractive graphics, an effective display stand and event panels, and the right sales representatives on the floor all seem to pave the way for a great show, but the real work starts much earlier than that.
Each and every trade show that you choose to attend must be planned and promoted months in advance. Those shows in 2013 that you have already entered? Starting now will increase the odds of a successful show.
What should you do to maximize the effect and profitability of those shows? The following steps are all things you should be considering right now:
- Timetable: About 12 weeks in advance, you should make a note on your calendar of the show and start really focusing on the pre-show preparation that is required. Don’t just rely on arriving and setting up and letting your mere presence dictate success. Pre-show promotion is as important as anything when maximizing your investment in exhibition displays.
- Pre-show notification: When a show is upcoming, you can make the attendees aware that your booth will be present and a worthwhile stop on their visit. Such mailings or announcements are actually quite simple. Registration as an exhibitor entitles you to acquire a list of info about registered attendees, and you can use this list to send a brief pre-show advertisement to those who might be interested. Don’t make it a hard sell; simply pique their interest so that when they arrive on the trade show floor, they will either search you out or they will recognize your brand name and choose to investigate the company that sent them advance notice. The principle works just like advertising: brand name recognition is most of the battle. And when you have a busy booth populated by attendees, the ripple effect is that you draw even more clients. Why wait several hours to do the hard work of attracting customers on the floor? Pre-show notification plants the seed even before the show begins.
- Presentation: One good tip is to mail a glossy postcard advertising yourself so that it arrives about a week before the trade show. Keep the information brief, as clients won’t remember most of the information when they arrive at the show. Keep it to a few key bullet points that get their interest stimulated. The front of the card should produce your striking graphic, the one single catchy point you would like to make about your product, and the name, date, and booth number so they can find your exhibition displays. The reverse side should contain more detailed information, including a repeat of how to find you, such as your booth number, date, and time as well as the bullet points. In case they want to contact you before the show (or after), include relevant business information. Don’t forget websites and e-mail! Include any promotions you may be offering. Use your main advertising campaign as a basis; you may even adapt your usual graphics and sales points on the postcard. If you set this in motion eight weeks before the trade show, by the time the cards are printed off and sent to you, it will be nearly time to send them out. This includes any time for unforeseen delays as well as rebranding and marketing consulting.
- Re-advertise to your current clients: In addition to the postcard idea, make an e-mail version for your current client list and prospects you are still trying to entice so they are aware of your successful sales activity. (You should also be asking them what shows they attend, to add to your list of possible future shows – that will help you stay in front of them and the rest of their industry.)
- The Dailies: When a trade show offers free space in their show guide, don’t ever turn down free advertising. If they charge, it is still a worthwhile investment to grab the eyes of potential clients before they are enticed by other booths. If they go there looking for something general, they may not see you no matter how well organized you are. Large shows have a way of making that happen. If you advertise in the show guide, clients may go there looking specifically for you. It will bump up your visiting percentages enough to justify the investment.
- Pre-flyers: Getting your show flyers to circulate before the show gives you that edge over potential rivals and gives your clients something to investigate before the event gets too hectic. Including a coupon that they can redeem if they enter their name not only gets them to visit your exhibition displays but it also provides them with an incentive to supply their information to you.
- Giveaways: They both promote your products and they promote the demonstration of the products. Who can resist free items? Your trade show promotion will not only guarantee added attendance at your booth, it will make potential clients more receptive to your message. After all, you can’t be that bad if you are giving away free items.
- Drawings: Creating a contest drawing time, say on the hour every hour, fabricates an urgency to get to your exhibition displays that might not exist otherwise. It also draws plenty of looks at your booth as the trade show tries to figure out what is going on over there. Not only will your traffic increase around the time of the drawing, but it will increase right after it as well. Like the surging of a wave, your booth will be hit by traffic every hour. Every booth hopes for that kind of success, and a simple prize wheel can help it happen.
You can have the best representatives and the best products in the world, but pre-planned management of the advertising foundations of your show will maximize the effectiveness of your trade show investment. Planning each trade show appearance well in advance will pay off when your booth is one of the exhibition displays that every participant envies and few attendees can resist.