Planning a successful trade show requires planning, creativity and determination.
While most businesses measure trade show goals counting the leads, opportunities and return on investment that come out of an trade show, what really drives results is the structured planning to achieve those goals. Trade shows can be a significant investment for a company. Therefore good metrics to prove its effectiveness are a must.
Here are nine tips to ensure your trade show is a success:
1. Plan well in advance.
Plan well ahead of time. It is never too early to start. Coordinate and agree with your colleagues travel dates and modalities, so that flights can be booked before the price increases. Do the same and book and organise hotel rooms before they sell out. Organise local transports, such as car rentals or trains, and documents, visas and paperwork.
2. Run pre-show campaigns.
Pre-show campaign planning is key. If you are launching a new product or service, or have news to share, new sets of gadgets and documents or procedures, then start preparing the mail and the campaigns so that you can start it at least six weeks before the event. You want to inform your customer and prospects of your presence at the trade show and use emails as a channel to aggregate news, teasers and opportunities to action during the event.
3. Prepare the sales and executive teams.
Different colleagues and teams typically attend trade shows, including marketing, sales and executives. It is paramount that they are all aware of the scope of the mission, the way to run the operation and that are all informed of the details of it, including logistics. Make sure everyone is well organised, coordinated and informed. Internal communication pre-trade show is of great importance.
Produce an event operation document with a recap of all important matters, including phone numbers, chats and mails of the whole team. Please ensure also local contacts, if different, are in the document. All of those involved in the event, being at the event or at basecamp should have a copy of such document and receive a briefing.
4. Organise the meeting sessions.
Include meetings and booth hours in the planning, as much as possible, and have those synchronised on everyone’s calendars. Ascertain that the time zone of their calendar and yours are correct.
Invite all those involved with all aspects of the trade fair to a “prep session” the week before the trade show is scheduled. Prepare a slide deck and include housekeeping items such as the hotel, venue, booth hours, dress code, etc., as well as an overview of how matters will run with the show meetings and networking events.
5. Engage potential partners and clients in pre-show booth meetings.
Marketing and Sales should work together to pre-schedule booth meetings with prospects, customers and partners. Set a realistic goals and start engaging and pre-booking your targets according to your goals.
In addition, in the calendars should always be clear who will be the team member in charge of running the meeting and who are to be those invited.
6. Communicate on social media.
Post relevant photos of the trade show to your social channels before, during and after the event. Invite attendees to stop by your booth to enter a contest, pick up a giveaway or watch a demo. Make sure to include your booth number and event hashtag, as well as a map, so attendees can easily find you and navigate the trade fair.
7. Provide giveaways.
Creative and appealing giveaways generate more traffic. Budget for giveaways or activities to attract visitors. Be surprising and creative with your gadgets and initiatives.
Everyone loves food and beverages. All would love to taste a proper espresso or a sweet cake and they are good ways to attract attendees to your booth and hang out with your team. This will help transforming the context into an informal and amicable one, opening up better conversations for business opportunities.
8. Keep your ducks in a row.
During the trade show, gather the team 30 minutes before the doors open. This is particularly important on the first day, where you will need to help them navigate the place and refresh the operational practices. This will help your team start on the right foot and be better at performing during the trade fair.
Have a scanner organised at your booth, so that you can scan the badge of everyone that stops by. You will assess and qualify them at a later stage, with more focus and time.
Make sure that all what is needed during the show is checked and replenished at the start of every day, including commercial documentation, gadgets, food and drink, giveaways, and cleaning towels.
9. Debrief and follow up.
At the end of the trade show, once back at basecamp, schedule a debrief meeting with all those involved with the trade fair. Take notes on what could be improved at the next opportunity. All aspects of the full sets of initiatives and activities should be scrutinised.
Post-show follow-up is crucial. This is were most events investments fail. Leads are often not properly qualified and engaged, after the event. You should have them added to your existing CRM or customer relationship management system and shared with your sales team within two days of the conclusion of the show.
Data and leads can provides insight into the important metrics, such as the number of interactions, booth traffic, quantity and quality of leads and opportunities, both potential or closed. This can also be used to build historical data related to specific trade shows and provide valuable information to design a better strategy for future marketing and sales activities as well as a better understanding to make informed decision for attendance at future events