What’s the perfect marketing situation? How about a short period of time, when a large number of prospects are all gathered in one place, looking to buy things?
That, in a nutshell, is what you get with a well-chosen tradeshow. It’s like setting a kid loose in a candy store for smart vendors. But it still takes doing a lot of things right to make the most of that opportunity. After all, your competitors, as well as others, want to sell to the same prospects. And it costs thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands to do a trade show, when you include the fee for the space, your display, air fare, staff pay, handouts, mailings, etc.
If you do it right, a trade show could show an astronomical ROI (Return on Investment) and have you laughing all the way to the bank.
So what does it take to do it right?
1. Pick a tradeshow that has a concentration of exactly the people or businesses you are trying to reach. Who has been buying your products or services? Look for more of the same.
2. Book a space early and get the best location you can afford. There’s a big difference between a booth on a cross-aisle near the entrance, and something stuck in some back corner most visitors never see.
3. Don’t skimp on display design. All those people walking down the aisle may be potential prospects but they have to notice your display, to give you a chance to sell. High impact visuals make all the difference. That means large images, bright colors, sharp reproduction. It can mean equipment, or videos or something else eye-catching. But don’t think people are going to stop and look just because you are there. You have to grab their attention and grab it quickly.
4. Think about your message. Once you get eyes on your display, what are you going to convey to those eyes that will make potential prospects stop and look for more information? Those should be the words (or video message) that people see FIRST.
5. Marketing collateral! You need handouts – so people have something to take along as a reminder or to study later, or if you are busy talking to someone else, or at lunch.
6. Pre- and post-show mailings. If you can swing it, mailings can alert attendees ahead of time that you have a booth they want to see. Post-show mailings can be a great reminder message.
7. Be prepared to sell – or to collect prospects and contact information. The whole reason for doing a show. At consumer shows, sometimes you are selling right then and there, but most of the time, all you are trying to do is generate interest and collect contact information. Any and all contacts are valuable – whether they have any immediate interest or not.
8. FOLLOW UP AFTER THE SHOW. It happens all the time. Someone does a trade show, gets a pile of contact information and doesn’t follow up with them by calls, emails or bulk mailings. Worst of all, people generate a pile of prospects and don’t energetically follow up on them and lose a large portion of the potential sales. Shows are hard work and the staff involved often return to a pile of regular work that backlogged while they were out. The show isn’t done and things don’t go back to normal until the show leads have all been worked. So it is overtime, all hands on deck – whatever it takes, or you just wasted most of why you did the show in the first place. So plan for success, know going into it that there’s going to be a lot of extra work after the show – and that means making it all worthwhile.