Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse, August 30, 2016
I have been involved with the trade show industry for a while now. What I have found that most trade shows are "sensory overload". In a sea of like-minded manufacturers and distributors jam packed in a convention center, it is very difficult to find the right buyer and equally as difficult for them to find you.
Most people, new to the Trade Show World think that the promoter does all the work to get the right buyers to the show. Sure, they market it the best they can, but they cannot directly target buyers for your goods. That is up to you and it must start months before the show and months after the show.
Here are my take-aways for a successful Trade Show Launch.
1) PRE-SHOW MARKETING
There are a couple of things to look at before you pack up and head to the trade show arena. Unique Value Proposition, Current Customer List, Editorial Contacts.
Before the show contact your buyers and tell them about the show and what you will be sharing. Be sure to include what separates you from any competitors that may be at the event. Invite them to take a pre-view of your new product before the show. A great call to action would be a discount on orders taken before the show. Use the show to set up meetings with the buyers in a way to get more acquainted. Ask your buyer for any referrals to others in the industry who they think may be looking for this solution to their problems.
You will also want to prepare a press release and send it out to the editorial community and media. The press release will include your perfect solution to the buyers problems, include your booth number and other contact information on the press release.
This is a great time for you to see what is going on in the industry. Look for the beginnings of trends. Look for trends happening in particular verticals and determine if they would be a good fit for your business model.
Capturing leads. Have a system in place that is simple and easy to use to qualify contacts you meet at the show. A series of notecards,
The show is also a great place to have your sales materials all ready and easily accessible. Allow your buyers or potential buyers an easy way to get information and make an order. Know this, you most likely won't get a $100,000 order at the show. The buyers will bring information back and share it with their team to make an informed decision. Give them the tools to make it an easy decision to choose your company.
3) POST SHOW MARKETING
Whew! That was a crazy event. Sensory overload. Lots of great contacts. Now what? Start calling. Start quickly. Give no more than a week to allow your contacts to get back to the office and settle things out. Start off by sending a thank you card for stopping by the booth. Follow up a couple days later with a phone call. Look to your show notes on what they specifically were interested in and follow-up on those items. This is a time to "date before you get married". Be sure to focus on how you are solving their problem.
Review analytics. Were you able to capture any data from the event? Amount of people scanning at your booth, visitor count, etc. We have helped clients capture web traffic with big QR codes on our booth graphics as passers by scanning the code to a specific landing page. Interview staff and get their take on what they see as new trends.