from the Crowd:
THE NUTS + BOLTS OF THE
TRADE SHOW EXPERIENCE
Peter Eberly, Director
Product and Vertical Marketing
You’ve taken the leap. Your company is registered for the trade show of all trade shows — the one you’ve convinced your leadership team will make a difference and will foster new business with your existing customers and will give you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with prospects.
Now comes the hard work: Executing on the trade show or event. How will you create an experience that will captivate and delight your existing customers and will knock the socks off potential new customers?
The good news
If you’ve done your homework and selected the right show, your customers already will be there and they are looking for you. According to the Oxford Economics and Events Industry Council, more than 251 million Americans participated in trade shows or meetings in 2016. According to sageworld.com, 77 percent of executive decision-makers found at least one new supplier at the last show they attended.
To truly showcase your company to those loads of customers, follow these tips to stand out from the crowd:
- Make your booth unique. Having a smaller space is OK if you build something so unique that customers and prospects are lining up to see. New products, fun games, great swag — all of these can help create the impression that you’re someone attendees should know.
- Line up an interesting speaker. Do you have a connection to someone well known in the industry? If so, leverage it to get people to your space.
- Have a great plan to communicate what you are offering at your space. A preshow campaign and personal emails, phone calls or in person invitations will help get the attention of customers and prospects.
- Leverage social media to build excitement. Partner with influencers to drive traffic to your trade show booth or event. For more about influencer marketing.
- Plan how you will capture contacts or leads in advance of the show. Many shows offer lead-retrieval devices for rent. It makes capturing contact information much easier.
- Follow up. So many people meet at trade shows and events and they end up being a stranger on a plane experience. Show that you are different by cultivating new relationships with emails and/or phone calls. Even if the contact doesn’t end up being an immediate customer, they may become one down the road if they are impressed by you and your company.
Want to dive deeper into ways to enhance value for trade shows? Check out this list of “Gaps in Exhibition Offerings to Address to Further Enhance the Value of Attending” from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.
In the Center for Exhibition Industry Research study, only 20 percent of respondents identified gaps to enhance value.
- Not enough representation/products relevant to my business needs
- Need wider variety of products/services to avoid repetition
- Missing major vendors of interest
- Desire for more theatrical/interactive displays
- Clearer signage
- More relevant education sessions
- More hands-on demonstrations/product training
- Different formats for educational sessions: roundtables, workshops, brainstorming, collaboration