Many clients, regardless of industry, hold on to three ancient concepts with tradeshows:
- They are important as a new business tool
- It’s a highly productive environment to meet with existing customer
- If you build a great booth, they will come.
Unfortunately, regarding the last point, we aren’t living in the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams. Though sometimes, I think companies are dreaming when they think they can meet their strategic objectives for positive ROI without doing The Three Cycles of Successful Communications:
- At the Show Marketing
Participating at a trade show (with a well-designed booth, scheduling the sales team for booth duty, buying advertising space, planning promotions and perhaps attending or hosting breakout education sessions or participating on a panel) takes time, money and a great deal of preparation and energy. If you capture some key business deals or sell many widgets, then it becomes a good show and the ROI could be pretty decent.
If you attend trade shows because you feel you have to and to not attend sends a message to your clients, potential clients and your competition that “something must be wrong with your company, then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.” For some, the thought of losing brand awareness of you not being there is often a more powerful negative than when you actually attend.
Before you sign up for your next trade show, ask yourself the following questions:
- What would make this a successful tradeshow? More sales, connecting with new clients, solidifying current relationships, learning about the marketplace?
- What is the real cost to attend and what will have to occur to at least break-even?
- Is there a strategy and timeline to prepare your message and to let current clients, new clients and colleagues know about the show, your booth and what you want to accomplish at the show?
- What is my calendar for distribution for the email campaign to educate my key audiences about the company’s attending the booth?
- Pre-Marketing – A rule of thumb is a quick-to-read captivating email 2 weeks before the show and 1 week before the show.
- At the Show Marketing – email sent the day of the show.
- Post-Marketing – followed by another email to people who you met with or just stopped by.
- What should I be doing to attract traffic to my booth? Candy, pens and USB
drivesare good,but isn’t there something I can offer to be more memorable at the booth that helps brand us or reinforces a new product/service launch and won’t end up being left in the hotel?
- Is there a strategy for after the show to contact those people who needed more information or wanted to set up a conference call or meeting?
- Do I have a long-term follow-back plan so that one month after the show, an email or phone call takes place to those who stopped by your booth?
- Should I schedule a post-show meeting with the sales team to get feedback, learn what we did well and what we didn’t and what and who was the buzz around the show?