The quote, “failing to plan is planning to fail” can certainly apply to trade shows. Clay Creative knows one of the most important things a company can do prior to a big conference is to plan and start doing so early. Another critical part of attending a trade show is the marketing and sales strategy. Companies should develop an exhibit plan which is an extension of their general marketing plan and includes a tactical sales approach. Their presence at a show should be a strong reflection of their brand, help further their sales efforts, and establish them as a credible player in their industry. Below are ten steps Clay Creative recommends their clients follow to ensure their trade show participation is a success:
1. Identify the Objective. Why is your company participating in this conference? Are you launching a new product? Looking to capture new sales leads? Do you need to establish yourself as an industry competitor?
2. Set Goals. How many sales leads do you want a day? How many new orders do you want to take away from the conference? How many people do you want to attend demonstrations?
3. Pick a Point Person. Larger companies likely have an exhibits manager but, if not, someone needs to be assignment the task of managing your conference participation. There may be several other people given specific responsibilities but everyone should report into one manager to control the event.
3. Make a To-Do List. Whoever is in charge should list everything that has to be done well in advance of a trade show and assign it out, as needed. Failing to do so can result in an inability to participate, poor booth position, missed advertising, and a lack of sponsorship opportunities among other things. Assignments include such responsibilities as: ordering booth space, requesting electricity to your exhibit, securing carpeting, having graphics made, producing literature, or creating a drive-to-booth promotion.
4. Set Deadlines. Clay Creative recommends meeting regularly to review everyone’s progress.
5. Pre-Show Promotion. For the best results, Clay Creative tells their clients to let people know you’ll be at the show and how to find you. This can be done through email-blasts, postcards, updates on social media, and blog posts.
6. Drive-to-the-Booth. Think of creative ways to drive traffic to your booth. This usually includes a trade-show giveaway and can be done very effectively though a pre-show mailer (either traditional mail or through email). Tell people to bring the mailer to the booth (which captures all of their contact information) to redeem for a special prize or product give-away.
7. Consider the Competition. On a crowded conference floor, it can be difficult to get noticed among the competition. Think about ways you can make your space – no matter what the size, stand out. One fun and easy way Clay Creative has had success, is something as simple as renting a popcorn machine. People came from all over the exhibit floor to get their free box of popcorn, which was printed with their client’s logo and contact information. Demonstrations at the booth which employ technology are another good way to attract customers while conveying product information.
8. Qualify Leads. With so many people at a conference and only a few sales people at one time at a booth, Clay Creative recommends not trying to sell to everyone. It’s important to maximize sales time and qualify leads.
9. Follow-Up. After returning from a trade show, timing is critical for follow-up. You want to work leads while they are fresh and send out any requested information right away. A general rule of thumb is to call prospects within 3 days of a conference.
10. Post-Show Analysis. Decide if the conference was worth attending. If it was, be sure to put in on the schedule for next year and make note of when exhibit registration is due. Large shows often have prices breaks for early registrations.
If your organization needs help with trade-show planning, exhibit graphics, or wants creative ideas for pre-show mailings and promotional items, call Jessica Clay at 740-548-0307, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Franklin Clay at email@example.com.