It is no secret that trade shows are expensive, and use up a lot of time from those involved. There is much to consider leading up to a trade show, and each detail has a dollar amount associated with it. This clashes with many marketing departments who are seemingly understaffed. I mention this issue to illustrate that I understand why many companies are not engaged in one or two of the three important phases of trade shows. That said, marketing departments carry challenging budgets that are heavily scrutinized. So why not take the extra time and effort to derive the full benefit of a successful trade show program?
The three phases I mentioned previously are the pre-show phase, show-time phase and post-show phase. I’ll touch on what each of these phases entails, and why they are all important.
The time before the show is about more than sorting the show details, it is prime time to market to show attendees. Some of the pre-show activities that can help lead to success are as follows:
-Develop an email campaign to highlight a show-time promotion.
-Develop a targeted direct mail campaign to engage top clients and prospects.
-Setup meetings and appointments with clients and prospects that will be in attendance.
-For the most important show(s), create a company sponsored event for clients and prospects.
-Develop specific, measurable goals.
The most important part of a trade show is the face time with clients and top prospects. Get them excited about your company and seeing you, prior to the show.
A significant amount of work has been put in to get to this point. Here are a few things that could be beneficial at the show site:
-Discussing goals with booth staff.
-If lead generation is a goal, having a lead retrieval device to capture them.
-Having a theme consistent with your brand, messaging and specific show goals.
-Engaging attendees with relevant promotion.
There are two keys at show-time; creating a positive experience for attendees and making sure each goal is being measured. The first will give you a sense of success at show-time, the second will prove it.
Post-show is all about measurement. What you do with the information you have will determine whether this show was worth it to attend.
-Have a system in place to follow up on leads.
-Have a system in place to measure sales generated from the show.
-Create a survey to measure the memorability of your brand based on trade show experience.
-Generate a thorough, quantitative report of each specific trade show to report to management or keep on file.
I have previously written about trade shows taking time and money. The post-show metrics, evaluations and analysis will determine whether a show deserves either next time around.
These three phases work together, and all are necessary. If you haven’t marketed pre-show, you shouldn’t expect that your target audience will flock to your booth. If the right attendees are flocking to your booth, and there is no show-time measurement or post-show follow up, it could still be a challenge to justify your participation at the show. Make the most of your company’s money and most importantly YOUR time, by working the three phase approach.
Author: Chase Howells
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