Leverage these trade show tips to maximize the time and money you invest in industry trade shows.
After years of working with companies who are looking to modernize their marketing, we've come to understand there is magic in a mix of marketing strategies. Online marketing efforts have an extensive reach and allow your initiatives to continue to build on themselves over time. But if you've been led to believe that traditional marketing efforts such as trade show exhibitions are a waste of time, then you've been led astray.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research states that "trade shows contribute more than $80 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product." That's a ton of opportunity — an opportunity that can be yours to take advantage.
Data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research has also shown that having a display table at expos or trade shows put you in a position for more cost-effective face-to-face conversations with potential prospects. That's because the average cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a trade show is $142 — far less than the $259 price tag on a meeting at a prospect's office.
Although attending trade shows can prove to be valuable (not only in revenue and sales but in gaining contacts and brand recognition in the industry), it also requires a significant investment of time, energy, personnel, and funds. But no need to worry, we've put together an infographic that covers all the trade show tips you need to know to ensure the efforts you're making yield maximize results.
Before your trade show, spend time creating pre-show marketing campaigns and defining key metrics and goals.
Laying a solid foundation before you attend any trade show is crucial to the success of your event. It's important to remember that each show is a unique opportunity to connect and engage with industry prospects and peers. Before you even begin to invest any time or money into your marketing efforts, start by establishing SMART goals. You and your team should create goals on what you are trying to achieve before every show, allowing you to track and report on goals after the event.
If you're wondering what you need to consider when making your SMART goals, we generally suggest considering three categories.
- Awareness: these are goals that help spread the word about you in the industry; they are not backed up by specific lead metrics but often will lead to increase lead generation down the road.
- Quantifiable: these types of goals relate back to the numbers, and in turn, are quantifiable (hints the name).
- Logistical: this type of goal relates to what is happening on the floor during the show.
Once you have your goals set in place, it's time to begin pre-show planning and marketing. 32% of the marketing budget is allocated to events and exhibits. In 2019 we saw 36% of U.S. companies planning to make an increase in their trade show budget. We understand the investments being made to trade show exhibitions — that's why we recommend leveraging technology at and before your event.
Did you know that 76% of attendees use pre-show information? Time can be precious to attendees because there's so much to pack into each event. It's essential to value and respect their time. Let attendees know you’ll be at the show with an email marketing campaign and allow them to make an appointment with a member of your team. You can even consider sending pre-show promotion to target accounts by using a “house list” or show list.
Pre-show promotion that utilizes techniques like digital advertising and targeting, promotion on social media, printed campaigns such as direct mailers, or advertising with the event in pre-show magazines or digital ads can help raise the quality of your booth traffic by 46%.
Once you’re at your trade show event, make sure you’ve staffed and equipped your exhibit to yield maximum results.
Did you know that 4 out of 5 attendees have buying authority, yet 70% of exhibitors don’t set specific strategies for trade show participation? We also know that 92% of trade show attendees are at trade show events to learn about new products.
Knowing that a majority of the attendees at trade shows are looking for new and exciting services or products for their company and have the necessary buying authority, it’s crucial to consider the following ideas to ensure you are maximizing your opportunity to capture valuable leads.
Invest in a great giveaway.
Help incentivize people to hand their business card over to you. Invest in one to two fantastic giveaways to help set your booth apart from the rest. In addition to an attention-grabbing giveaway, consider giving smaller items to booth visitors that will help keep you top-of-mind. While portable chargers, pens, and sunglasses are common possibilities for trade show swag, make sure to consider swag items that help relate to your product, service, or the trade show campaign.
Provide valuable collateral and content for buyers.
Make sure you have the appropriate collateral and marketing materials available to buyers and visitors. Branded sales collateral helps to develop a consistent brand experience. It also provides relevant and valuable information about your products/services and is a tangible piece that can be passed along to colleagues.
Know what you’re promoting, and leverage extrovert team members.
As discussed previously, pre-show promotion will help notify the appropriate people you will be at the show, where they can find out, and what they can expect to see. It’s important that your marketing team creates an effective strategy for your exhibit, but it’s equally crucial that you staff your booth with team members that will best represent your company. Your trade show booth team should be knowledgeable experts who understand how to read and interact with prospects. Since trade shows are marketing first and selling second, ensure your team members are prepared for a smooth transition from trade show to lead follow up to close.
After the excitement of the trade show starts to wind down, ensure you have a rock-solid follow-up strategy to capitalize on engagements and interactions made at your event.
The show might be over, but that doesn’t mean the job is done. In fact, the time after the show ends provides an incredible opportunity to make the most of the leads you gathered at the event.
It’s tempting to send a blanket email to all the leads you collected, but we’d advise against that idea. Instead, we’d recommend having your sales team personally reaching out to promising leads they connected with at the show with a tailored message. You may also want to create follow up email options that utilize content tailored to new prospects versus existing clients.
Visitors will tell 6+ people about their experience at an event. So, you need to be sure you follow up fast. The longer you wait to connect with people from the trade show, the longer they have to forget who you are and what you said. Remember, visitors have numerous interactions at these events, as much as you want to believe yours was impossible to forget — it’s tough to remember everyone and their offerings after the show. A prompt follow-up helps create a seamless, quality experience for visitors you engaged with during your trade show event.
Don’t forget follow-up engagement doesn’t have to stop at follow-up email distribution. It may be worthwhile to engage with potential leads via social media or a phone call. Be sure to encourage promising contacts or leads to schedule a time to connect and talk more.
Not sure how you can leverage trade show attendance in your marketing strategy or need help preparing for your next trade show exhibit?
While this article highlighted some trade show tips you can implement immediately, pulling together a trade show campaign may still feel overwhelming. No need to worry. We’re here to help! TANK can help you create a marketing strategy that focuses on getting the maximum ROI out of the time and money you're investing in exhibiting at industry trade shows. We help growth-minded organizations generate the marketing and sales traction they need to succeed in the modern digital world. Learn about our sales enablement services here.