Why Trade Shows Could Be the Best Marketing Strategy for your Business

Trying to suss out the best marketing strategy for your business? BusinessDictionary.com gives us specific definitions of the similarities and differences between Marketing, Advertising, and Sales.

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One of the challenges for any business is developing the marketing/advertising/sales triangle to the best advantage. If you do a trade show well, then you can hit the MAS trifecta, and reward your efforts with an optimal return.  Trade shows could be the best marketing strategy for your business.

Let’s borrow the first five tips from Dan Scalco, founder and director of Growth, Digitalux, in his article for INC.com, “5 Reasons Why Trade Shows Are Key to Your Marketing Mix.” (These are slightly modified.)

  • Trade shows are huge lead generation engines. Instead of going out into a cold environment to generate interested consumers, they magically come to you. Be prepared to gather this information efficiently.
  • There is no better place for continuing Education in your field than to attend a convention of like-minded experts, some of whom have been anxious and ready to share their expertise in an organized manner. Partake of this banquet.
  • There is no better place to establish rapport than a casual business setting at a beautiful hotel with distractions minimized and your products squarely on the agenda. Never eat lunch alone.
  • You have invested in presentation technology, stunning business cards, data management for lead processing, useful (or silly) give-aways, staff training, a set of just-comfortable-enough chairs, and some strategically placed feather banners. To get the highest return on these investments, rehearse traffic flow with your staff to avoid bottlenecks in your presentation areas.
  • After exposure in the intense atmosphere of a trade show, customers don’t need as much nurturing before being ready to pull out their wallet and buy, resulting in quicker and higher sales.  In order to take your advantage home with you, process your lead data quickly, so that you don’t lose momentum from the high-energy environment.

Let’s refine this list, so that you will be ready for your best business year ever. Preparation should start as soon as you decide to do a trade show, even if you haven’t chosen which show you are going to attend. Implementing the best marketing strategy may take some time, so give your company several months to prepare, and let’s go over some more tips from trade show industry insiders.

    • Engage your staff in rehearsing their spiel. Your company pitch should be concise, but flexible and friendly. It should be an earnest attempt, with plenty of eye contact, to give potential customers and colleagues the information that they need to feel comfortable doing business with your company.
    • Limit the length of your conversations. Some people are more enjoyable to talk to than others, but practice the fine art of working the room, or in this case, the booth.
    • Decide which product samples will available at your booth. If you make ocean liners or bombs, this will be challenging, but something tangible is essential.
    • Write a hand-out (or assign a member of your staff to write) about your company, especially for the trade show.
    • Design new business cards, especially for the trade show.
    • Decide on a freebie hand-out, such as a durable shopping bag for people to carry all that printed matter. With your logo.
    • Decide what type of investment to make regarding your presentation booth. You will need professional feedback for durability, and the ability to keep up with presentation technology. Maybe you want to buy; maybe you want to rent. Your best choice will be modern, comfortable, light-weight, durable, inviting, and above all, noticeable, with an easy entrance/exit flow.
EV2-ML5 10x20 truss inline booth with storage and private meeting area

Storage space and private meeting space, with great traffic flow = best marketing strategy.

  • You need a place to put literature.
  • Have some sort of directional signage. Keep the focus on your company and your services.
  • When you decide on which show to attend, call immediately, and develop a relationship with the hotel staff. Negotiate a booth position that is easy to see.
  • Coach your staff regarding breaks (not at the booth, because they must be constantly available to attendees.) If snacks are available, they should be available to potential customers as well. Hotel rules will apply in any case.
  • Find out who is attending the show, and if you want to have dinner with a specific person, make that reservation in advance.
  • Arrive early so that you can attend any relevant or related seminar. This is one of the best situations to meet people and answer relevant questions. Stay late after the show is over for the same reason.
  • Leave your family at home. Take them to Hawaii next month, or send them to Hawaii and meet them there later, but do not take them to the trade show. Call them after lunch, on your way to the product seminar, and then again at dinner time after eating with your best producer, and then again at 11 pm after four drinks with that man who expressed interest in ordering your highest line items. Tell them all about it. Call again before breakfast. Call often enough so that they don’t need to call you. Don’t forget.
  • For companionship, maybe on the morning of the second day, choose a fellow attendee who is in your field; you can troll the Convention center together for half an hour, passing out product information to lost souls.
  • The week before the trade show, get plenty of rest, and pay attention to your diet. Go into your trade show week healthy and happy, and resist any form of cynicism with affirmations and positive energy.

and then, after the show, for god’s sake – FOLLOW UP! Why do all this work on finding and implementing the best marketing strategy, and then ignore the results?!