Trade Shows Require Pre-Planning
Many companies are forgoing trade shows and other marketing efforts in light of a bad economy that seems to get worse. Trade shows can be costly to attend – you have to think about the cost of your booth, your promotional materials, staffing your booth, travel, hotel, and incidentals. However, a trade show can be a great way to generate leads, increase sales, and gain exposure in your industry. If you do plan to exhibit at a trade show, there are some things to think about several months in advance. Here is a handy guide to planning for your trade show participation.
In the three to six months before the trade show, make sure you have a clear goal in mind. If you want to make sales on the floor, make sure you are equipped to do so by coming up with a way to accept credit cards, equipping your booth with your product, or having an easy way to sell your service. Making a sale is the honey pot in the trade show world, so if it is your goal to do so, make sure you are prepared.
In that same time period, set a goal for how many contacts you want to make – whether they are sales leads, investors, good industry contacts, or potential employees. It is not good to go into a trade show with no clear goals in mind. Having a plan and executing that plan result in a higher ROI. If you set goals and achieve them, you feel that you’ve accomplished something real, rather than waiting until the end and trying to figure out what you may have accomplished.
Also several months prior to the trade show, schedule some meetings. Schedule lunches with industry leaders, vendor presentations that are pre-set with invitations issued, and meetings with potential customers. Scheduled events and meetings take the guesswork out of who you will impact with your trade show message.
Speaking of the trade show message, make sure you know what your primary message should be. This is what your booth and all your marketing materials will reflect, so to make sure your materials and setup send the right message, figure out what that message is.
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to get your booth, design your handouts and promotional materials, and plan your trade show exhibit. Book plane tickets and hotel rooms far enough in advance to take advantage of any promotional prices, and make sure you have your staff sorted out so that all your preparation will pay off.