Let’s face it, exhibiting at a trade show is an expensive proposition so it is critical to ensure all of the right buttons are being pushed to maximize your return on investment. Hot off the heels of another successful trade show for our clients at MacWorld 2014, we thought we would share a few insights we learned over the years.
Media, Media, Media!
- Book Appointments! Make media coverage a priority. Whenever possible, book your press meetings well in advance of the show — preferably up to 4 weeks ahead of time to ensure you get on their calendar. Access the registered media list in advance of the show so you know who to target for appointments.
- Badge Watch! At most shows, different colors are assigned to various attendee types. Make sure someone is constantly on the lookout for the media badge.
- Be Ready! Have a quality demo/pitch person on hand at all times and armed with a digital press kit on a flash drive with all of the relevant materials to make their job easier. Also make sure that you have an attractive trade show display, as a quality display can make or break your trade show experience. You might want to check out something like Exponents custom trade show exhibits if you want to order your own premium trade show display.
- Follow Up! A meeting isn’t enough. Members of the press see so many products at the show it can all be a blur. Be sure to follow up within a few days of the show to lock in the coverage.
Come Fully Armed!
- Bring Plenty of Troops! For most products and companies, you need at least two demo/pitch people, with three (or more) being preferred depending upon booth size and anticipated traffic. There’s nothing worse than watching potentially important demos go by because your pitch person is busy. Plus, having more people allows for frequent smaller breaks to keep everyone fresh and energetic.
- Steer That Traffic! One tactic often over looked is hiring some local talent (read: inexpensive/no travel costs) to steer traffic to your booth. One or two people strategically positioned in nearby high traffic areas can make a huge difference in volume. If nothing else, having them hand out your flyer/brochure raises the profile of your brand or product.
- Squeaky Wheel Gets the Traffic! Make sure all of your demo/pitch people and traffic “steerers” know to engage every potential prospect that might wander by. In the trade show world, loads of people will wander by looking at booth signs and other visuals, but be reluctant to engage you. Therefore, it important to be proactive and quickly engage them. You’ll be surprised how many attendees will watch your demo if you just ask. Passively waiting for traffic may cut your effectiveness by 50-70%!
- Collaborate! Long before the show starts, find out who is doing the public relations & marketing for the show itself. Give them a call to find out what their plans are, what opportunities might exist, and generally stay on their radar so you can take advantage of any late-breaking opportunities.
- Be Recognized! Many shows have “Best Of” awards that honor a select group of products. Find out what the categories are; who is doing the judging and submit your product/company. Whenever possible, pre-book demo appointments with the judges. Winning these awards can be great post-show hype for your web site, product packaging, social media channels, etc. It would be something great to put on teardrop banners for trade shows to come.
- Preparation is Must! Overall preparation is vital to maximizing your ROI. Hone your messaging first. Then script your demos and create your handouts accordingly. Finally, make sure every team member knows exactly what is expected of them and has practiced and mastered their pitch!