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Make the Most of the Trade Show, Part 2

It doesn’t matter how you get involved in harnessing the unique power of a trade show — just be sure you do. Your sales numbers will thank you for it.

By VIJAYA SINGH-DHILLON, Managing Director, ABI Marketing Public Relations

This is part two of a two-part piece. Part one can be found here.

It’s Showtime

Once you’re at the show, it’s critical to strategically plan how to entice attendees into the booth. Incentives are a great way to attract attention and can include an exclusive “first look” at a new product or a special giveaway like an iPod or iPad. 

Your presence should reinforce what you stand for. For example, sustainability continues to be a hot topic. However, I’ll often walk around the floor of a trade show and notice the many sustainability messages blasting from a booth, yet there are piles of brochures and printed materials. Excess materials are not only wasteful and expensive; they contradict the ‘sustainability’ message your brand is touting. One solution might be to display colorful presentations on LED screens instead of printing on paper. This eye-catching spectacle is more meaningful to the viewer, and has an added benefit of saving on printing costs.

Beyond exhibiting or attending a trade show, take advantage of additional activities that you are doing at the show. Make sure to film your company’s speaking opportunities and tape customer event footage, as these can be used in post-show promotional efforts, further increasing your ROI.

Size up the Competition

Many companies forget that trade shows are also an excellent chance investigate your competitor’s booths, speaking sessions and press conferences. Because competitors will also be showcasing their latest and most desirable products and services, you’ll have the same first glance as media and industry professionals. This is an opportunity for a peak inside your competition before the news is actually published, giving you a head start on planning for the future.

The Work Doesn’t Stop When the Curtain Closes

After the event, your pockets will be bursting with business cards. Thus, it’s crucial to follow up with editors and new business leads after the event to maximize your trade show ROI.

Now that you’ve started a dialogue with a customer or prospect, it’s time to nurture it by staying in contact after the show. A phone call will also help continue the conversation about how your products or services can benefit your customer or prospect. In addition, enter these new contacts in your database so they will receive updates from your company, such in the form of an e-newsletter. These e-newsletters are a great method of staying in touch and promoting your company’s latest achievements. Take advantage of one of the free email distribution sites that will help get the word out at no cost.

Make sure your focus extends beyond customers. You’ve successfully caught media attention during the show, after is the time to sustain it. Put yourself in the shoes of editors, who had visited multiple booths each day of the show. Thus, it’s critical to make sure your company stays at the top of their list when they create post-show articles. After a week, follow-up with each editor with a phone call and/or email thanking them for stopping by the booth and ask if they’ll be featuring your company in post-show coverage. It’s also helpful to review each publication’s media calendar to see if an upcoming issue has a focus relevant to your company. This can help guide editors with placing content about your products or services.

When in Doubt, Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask the trade show organizers to help guide you through the unique opportunities each show offers. In addition, take advantage of every opportunity to maximize your investment.  Never fear if it all seems too overwhelming as there are many companies that specialize in helping you reach your trade show goals.  It doesn’t matter how you get involved in harnessing the unique power of a trade show — just be sure you do. Your sales numbers will thank you for it.

What’s your take? Please feel free to comment below!