Think Trade Shows Aren't Worth it? These 7 Fixes May Change Your Mind
If you've tried exhibiting and believe it doesn't work for you - not generating leads or sales, not creating better business connections, or not expanding your audience and your brand - there may be some tricks below you need to try. Take a look at our list of 7 strategies you should be doing before any show:
1. Manage Trade Show Strategy
To be an effective exhibitor, you need to have a sound trade show strategy in place. A good plan will help you choose the best shows, the best exhibiting spaces and materials, and help you meet your budgeting goals. This strategy needs to be updated at least once a year in order for the information to be relevant from show to show.
2. Don't Spread Your Budget too Thin
Exhibiting can be expensive and there are lots of components involved - the number of shows you want to attend, the cost of the space, displays, show services, giveaways, staffing, travel and accommodations. Unless your budget is unlimited, you need to balance out your spending.
Budget properly. If you're attending mediocre shows, booking the "just okay" spaces, and your display is "good enough", you probably won't find exhibiting to be very successful.
When budget is an issue consider reducing the number of trade shows you attend. Put your money into the shows that make the cut and make them the best they can be.
3. Choosing the Right Display and Graphics
Research all of the different display options and their specifications to be sure you are getting the right solution for your needs.
A lot of emphasis is often put on which type of hardware system to use. To help you, try working backwards. Identify the key messages you want to promote & the best way to accomplish that i.e. demonstration, video or graphically, then decide which hardware system best fits.
If the shows you attend are geographically spread out, don't choose a display that's heavy to ship. If you have different staff handling the set up at different events, don't choose a display with complex hardware.
If it looks like your future booth space is likely to grow, look for a system that is readily expandable. Or, if your show is a one time event consider a rental system.
There are simple ways you can update your display and your image without spilling your entire year's budget. Your graphics may need to be upgraded to fit current needs or trends. Perhaps adding a TV monitor to showcase your latest and greatest projects is all you need.
4. Exhibit Training for Staff
The employees at your trade show booth may or may not have exhibiting experience. Training will need to occur before they head down to the show and be briefed again each day before the show opens.
They should know what the end goal of the show is, the nature of the show's audience and have knowledge regarding the product or service you're selling.
There should always be training prior to going into the show that contains information on the 'what-ifs'.
Have a list of items to refer to so new exhibiting staff feel comfortable on the show floor when they're approached by prospects.
How do you properly engage conversation with prospects, how to answer questions that may be above their knowledge of the company or product, and how to properly close a conversation that helps lead into a sale?
5. Effectively Capturing Leads
Have you done your research on how to capture leads at a show? Are you up to date on what software and hardware options are available for lead capture and are you using it?
There is so much more information available on your leads that can be seamlessly and efficiently captured with today's software options. A couple of iPads floating around the booth to grab their information or even a quick survey can do the trick! Be sure you're doing your research prior to the show so that you're using the correct software that is right for your lead capture.
Being able to input this information properly while at the show will save you both time and money when it is time to follow up after the show is finished.
6. Following up With New Leads
Reaching out to new leads after your trade show is one of the most important aspects of exhibiting. All the time and money put into a show doesn't pay off in future sales if you're not following up after the show. If you wait too long or skip following up all together, you could miss your chance at their business and their interest.
Allocate the time in your schedule for follow ups before you even go to the trade show. Following up within the first week after the show ends keeps your interaction with a prospective lead fresh in both of your minds. A great tip is to write down a specific piece of interest they may have mentioned in your conversation (fishing, hiking, cars, an upcoming vacation etc.) and add this piece of information to your conversation. Showing that you remember their interests adds value to the email or phone call than just the generic sales follow up.
7. Don't go Stale
If you've been exhibiting for years and you just don't think it works anymore, make sure your trade show strategy has not gone stale. Do your research on new shows and find out where you really need to be. Keep up with what's happening in your industry. Where are your competitors exhibiting? Is your display out of style or are your graphics are showing their age?
What are your giveaways? Be sure to stay on trend with your giveaways as potential leads may pass your booth by in favour of something more trendy.
Do some research and perhaps walk a different industry show as a visitor! Be sure to keep up with what's happening on the trade show circuit.
Our Trade Show Strategy Toolkit may help you better plan your next show and keep you from going stale. Try planning important information beforehand which may change your mind if trade shows are worth it or not.
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