5 things you can do to get the most from a trade show
1 – Use the event to build energy all year round
A major trade event has a galvanising effect – it’s a line in the sand and something to aim at. You’d be surprised how much additional urgency a show can bring to marketing matters, and all that energy can make a significant difference in the months leading up to a show. Trade events focus people and that can have a positive impact on business if you plan for it.
2 – Work hard on the message
It's crucial to have a distinct and easily identified message that guides your attendance at the event. A compelling message gives an identity to the booth, a purpose to the sales team and a proper direction for your efforts. It helps to communicate and differentiate YOUR show, helps you to stand out, attract attention and focus. You wouldn't launch a product without going through the positioning process and developing a sales message and applying the same thinking to the show can reap real dividends.
3 – Get a decent spot
It sounds simple but make sure you're in the right place. Are you near a competitor? Do they have a much bigger budget than you? Do they have a new product to launch? Do you want to be near them? Are you near a major attraction? Placing your stand right next door to a huge, three-story construction has its benefits - there will be plenty of traffic and the media will probably make a bee-line for it. You can be dwarfed though, lurking in the shadows of a multi-million dollar budget. Where is the footfall? The prime spots are relatively easy to identify - corners, entrances, main thoroughfares and the like are all good spots to pick. Think a little more carefully though and you may turn up a nugget. Look at the exhibitor layout, are there any big names that would attract visitors, can you plot the likely routes to and from the main attractions? If you can, try to pick a spot on the route.
4 – Before, during and after
A successful event begins several months before the halls open and continues for several months after. Pre-show marketing is an essential component of a successful show, messages need to be disseminated aggressively, leads need to be chased and meetings arranged. All of this should begin 3-4 months before the actual event with a co-ordinated event marketing plan. Once the event is over, a post show campaign should begin immediately – follow up emails and calls to new leads should be made within the week but the drip drip of marketing that builds on that initial contact goes on for months after an event.
5 – Is it really for you?
Many people attend larger events simply out of habit. It’s seen as the ‘place to be’ and perhaps they’ve always attended. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and ask if that’s sensible marketing. Is it cost-effective to spend tens of thousands on a single event? Are there other smaller, more targeted events that might yield a better profile?