Marketing Your Business Using Trade Shows

With the support of our local council and the European Regional Development Fund, last year we were fortunate enough to exhibit for the first time at the Advanced Engineering Show in Birmingham.
Companies use trade shows as part of their all round marketing plan, the main reason for exhibiting is to get a large amount of prospects in a very short timeframe, another reason is usually to advance recognition for a new product or service that you might be offering, in our case it was to promote our new Composites Buyer solutions service.
Regardless of the reason, trade shows can be a large investment and a lot of consideration must go into using this option over others. Additionally, if you do choose to utilise trade shows to market your company, it’s critical that you do the level of planning necessary to make your event a success.
Marketing and planning is critical
The obvious part of trade show preparation is what you want the booth to look like, the set up and take down procedure, who will man the booth and when. You also need to arrange what marketing materials will be handed out and the logistics of getting things from point A to point B and back.
But the part that’s ignored is where most of the benefit of having a booth at a show comes in. To have a really successful show, you need to invest time in two aspects of your event, the pre-event marketing and the post event marketing. The pre-event marketing is concentrated on how to attract people to your stand.
This should be obvious, but unfortunately is often over looked, however if you want to maximise your event, this part is pretty significant. Assuming you’ve done a good job of targeting the trade show you want to be at, you now need to target the people you want to stop by your stand.
You will want to produce some type of incentive and buzz around stopping by your booth. The person coming by should be able to get something for stopping by or have a unique experience with your booth. The key point being, you want them to come see you first. Before they look at everything else and before they look at your competition. So make it worthwhile for them to come see you. It should pay off in the end.
Prospecting Is Why You Turned Up
The lack of post show planning is one of the biggest trade show sins, all the effort is put into the function of the event itself, but not a lot is put into the post event planning. You went to the show to generate leads and business, but what’s your follow up plan to ensure that happens.
I have seen a lot of companies spend a fortune to go to a show, walk away with a ton of leads, and do nothing with them. Or, they planned to do something with them, but were overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of follow ups required. It’s a real shame and a tremendous waste of the money you invested to be at a trade show in the first place.
If you are going to invest in attending an event, be sure you have a way to follow up with the prospects you capture or don’t go. You will look worse if you tell people you will contact them and never do.
For our leads we broke the follow up’s into two groups, hot, or immediate follow up and casual follow up. The hot potential customers, must be set aside, making sure that specific requests can be handled. It’s important that you write down at the show what those potential buyers wanted so that you can get them the responses, or set up the appointments after the show.
The balance of the opportunities, need to be put into some form of database with a method of correspondence, like a newsletter. That should be ready to go the day you come back from your show. When you do that well, you’ll look better then almost all of your competition and will be able to capitalise on the investment you made.
Keep the correspondence going and you’ll build up credibility and your list will continue to be valuable over time. If you just take the prospects and put them in a stack when you get back, then you will likely have wasted your investment.
As you will know if you’ve done one in the past, trade show marketing is expensive. Don’t squander your investment by not being ready for the event as well as the pre and post marketing. The better job you do with all three aspects, the higher the likelihood  is that you’ll see a positive return from your trade show investment.
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