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Tradeshows can bring big dollars and business to your organization if you select the right shows to attend, and have an overarching strategy while at the show. Some people fail miserably when they sign up for tradeshows, because they have no idea what their expectations and goals are. If planned out correctly, tradeshows are a perfect place to meet with vendors, sponsors, speakers, new prospects and referral sources for your organization. Below are a few helpful secrets to ensuring your tradeshow is a success.
Select the Right Event
Most organizations have an internal events staff, or event planner to help guide them on their yearly tradeshow journey. It’s up to that person or team to thoroughly review all tradeshows before attending any. There are lots of aspects of events that should be taken into careful consideration. For example, you want to attend shows that your customers and potential prospects (as well as decision makers) will be at. This means you’re looking at shows in your targeted industry, with the right amount of quality attendees.
Take a look at previous year’s attendee counts, sponsors who participated and speakers to see if the show makes sense for your company. Newer shows are very hard to gauge, but if well organized and marketed you should test the waters at top-notch shows you have never been to, or are in their first year. Sometimes you need to attend a show to see if it’s worth your while, but remember to invest wisely, and not go all in when participating at the newbie shows.
Market like a Cool Kid
Nobody likes the old school way of marketing events – sending emails every other day, direct mailers to meet your team in the booth, or hounding people the day after an event is over with thousands of questions and CTAs. BARF. The coolest way to market your organization for tradeshows today is to play it cool. In order to do so, send out details about what your company is doing at the event, whether it be sponsoring, speaking, or all of the above, and only target your customers and prospects who NEED these details.
Keep it fun and to the point when communicating with attendees. Use social media, blogs, and community posts (if there is a forum or community area for the event) to continue promoting your presence at the event in a unique and engaging way. Most attendees, if interested, will respond and have questions about when they can swing by your booth, set up one-on-one meetings, or catch up with your team at a networking event if you communicate with them the right way.
Be a Showstopper
One of the biggest draws to tradeshow booths today is the look and feel of the actual booth and space. Sure, everyone has giveaways and contests nowadays, but most attendees feel bombarded and overwhelmed with these tactics. Step out of your comfort zone and showcase your brand and/or products in a unique light. One way to do this is to create an un-booth for tradeshows. If your company sells a particular type of product, use that to your advantage by coming up with a fun theme that represents your brand and products in a cool way. The more compelling your space looks and feels, the more booth traffic you will have.
Photo credit: AlienVault booth at SpiceWorld Austin 2015
Leave lots of space and seating in an engaging atmosphere in your booth to let attendees feel welcome and offer them something to drink, eat, or giveaways while in the booth. Every part of the booth and marketing should be cohesive – from the theme, booth space, giveaways, booth staff shirts, email templates, social ads, blogs, etc – it should all have one overarching look and feel.
Make the First Move
The most inviting and engaging booth staff are the ones out in the aisles, in front of their stands saying hello and welcoming traffic into their space. It’s a huge turnoff when you walk past tradeshow booths and the staff are talking to one another, don’t look up, and can’t answer questions attendees ask. Make sure your event manager sends the RIGHT staff to man your tradeshow booth. Everyone at your organization may be a hard worker, but as we all know tradeshows can be very tiring and complex, so you need your all-stars to man that booth and rock it!
Review the topics you are speaking about or promoting for each event with your team before they step foot on the tradeshow floor. You can get asked questions in hallways, in the show hotel, or at breakfast, so go over your top touch points and goals with the team before they leave for the event!
Share the Love
By signing up for tradeshows, you’re more than likely doing a sponsorship, speaking session, and finding ways to mingle with your customers and prospects. Present alongside with partners or customers, and have them share their story of why they work with you. Don’t make it a selling speech, but rather a high-level conversation as to what has been working, why it works, and trends happening in your industry that can speak to this.
Another way to share and mingle with others is to co-host a dinner or happy hour with a partner or other organizations your team works with closely. Send out VIP exclusive invites to hand-selected attendees, and plan an exciting party for them. Customers love feeling appreciated, and will only continue to spread the love for your organization if you show them you care. Send lots of staff members so that they can spread out and talk to different circles at the party. There’s no better way to find out good (and bad) feedback about your team other than in person!
Tradeshows can sometimes be hard to plan without understanding goals and potential long-term success. By using some of these secrets you will be able to slowly engage with your core audience and determine which shows make the most sense for your team to attend. Select shows wisely, spend smartly, and create expectations for all members of your team to ensure success.