A tradeshow is an investment, so approaching it the right way is a must. Make sure you consider the following items, from the way you approach the show to the swag you bring and even your behavior on site before your next big event:
Make Sure the Event is Worth it
Every event has to generate enough ROI to pay for your team to attend. Analyze last year’s (and any previous year’s) returns to be sure the show is really worth attending and use social media to set appointments and generate leads before the show even begins. The leads you capture are what makes the event worthwhile.
Be on your Best Behavior
Even if you are a dedicated introvert, go out of your way to be friendly and helpful to everyone you meet. Consider the trade show to be your stage – and you need to be performing from the moment you leave your hotel room until the moment you return. Make sure you and your team are on your best behavior and that you go out of your way to be kind to everyone you meet – you never know who is watching or who you are sharing an elevator with at a big show.
Speak or Join a Panel
Make your mark on the event (and invite all your contacts to attend) by speaking or joining a quality panel. You’ll position yourself and your brand well, showcase your expertise and get an in with new prospects if you speak at the event.
Track your Data
Who is coming, what kind of leads are you generating and what are they responding to? A nightly look at leads captured can help you make beneficial changes right on the spot and ensure you are truly resonating with your prospects.
Set Appointments in Advance
When everyone in your industry is traveling to the show, you have a great chance to make appointments for in person meetings. Set these in advance, have a great perk to give away and you’ll make a connection that will benefit you for years to come. If your reps typically travel to meet a client, this can help cut your travel costs and ensure they get the meeting in an exciting location with lots of activity and buzz.
Offer Unusual SWAG
Give away items that will actually make it home with your prospects and make them want to come to your booth. Use your swag as a compelling reward for those who stop by – it needs to be tempting enough to stop them in their tracks and ensure they take the time to stop by. Will a pen with your brand name really pull them in, or can you do a little better? This is a great time to bring the creative marketing types in and see what they come up with free of budget restraints.
Be Memorable and Buzzworthy
Make sure your booth is the one people are talking about after the show ends by creating a memorable and relevant experience for guests. From hands on demonstrations and trials to entertainment that relates to your booth and resonates with your prospects, make this an event to remember. Recent popular booths included everything from on-site video gaming to a handmade cotton candy station and even live, swimming mermaids (all features related directly back to the products and brand) and visitors lined up to have a chance to interact with the booth.
Bring your Best Reps
Make sure your best reps are there and watch them in action. Set performance goals with coveted prizes and watch your top performers spring into action. This is the chance to let your sales team shine, whether you have some established pros or fresh new talent.
Promote the Event (Like it’s your Own)
Use event hashtags, talk about it in your blog and market the event like you planned it yourself. The more press and coverage the event gets, the better it is for you; promoting the event to others benefits you in the long run.
Follow Up Right Away
Make sure you respond right away to questions and requests and try to set appointments right at the show. Instead of relying on paper business cards, use a trade show lead capture app to capture leads in a fun way and ensure that you have a way to follow up with every prospect you meet.
A trade show is an opportunity to boost your brand awareness, capture leads, and even launch a new product to a receptive and targeted audience. The goals you set before the show will help you streamline your efforts and maximize your ROI on the money you spend to get there and exhibit. You’ll also be able to measure the success of the show in a tangible way.
You’re spending money to get there, from your booth to actually transporting your team, so setting goals that allow you to get the maximum return on your investment ensures the show is truly a success. While you can just put up a booth and pass out materials, considering the following possibilities and goals allows you to really make the most of the show:
- Can you capture leads for your salespeople to follow up on later?
- Can you make appointments with people you’d otherwise have to travel to see?
- Can you get your brand in front of a wider audience or gather free publicity?
- Is there any market research you can gather while you are there?
- Can you give a new product a head start with a VIP launch or preview at the event?
Launch a New Product
A fast and easy way to generate buzz about your latest product is to offer a special, VIP sneak preview at your next show. You can do demos, tailor your booth around the new item and even do an in-person trade show survey to get feedback that can help you market your latest product effectively.
Boost Brand Awareness
How many people in your industry and related areas are aware of your brand? Your trade show experience offers a valuable opportunity to introduce or reintroduce your brand to your audience. Offer demonstrations, educate visitors about your product and get your items into people’s hands. A trade show appearance can help legitimize a new business or revitalize an existing one, making your prospect more aware of your brand.
What do your customers really think about your product, what are they most worried about in general and what needs do they have. A steady stream of visitors to your booth is a valuable opportunity for data collection via a lead capture app for trade shows; offer a prize and you’ll be able to capture leads and data with ease.
Meet the Media
Local, industry and national media may be at your event; this is a valuable opportunity to make connections that will help your business grow. Make sure you have and take along media relations kits to pass out to press and that you make your mark on the visiting journalists. You could also gain valuable press coverage, just by attending and being featured on television or in news media.
Channel Support and Building
Boost your existing channel relationships and forge new connections at industry shows. From your existing partners to new agents, distributors and dealers, a trade show is a valuable opportunity to connect.
It is likely your primary goal; capturing leads that your sales team can follow up on later. Incentivize lead capture and you’ll bring home plenty of data for your sales team to work with. Use a tradeshow lead capture app to collect data and make it easy for your team to make connections after the show has ended.
Improve Customer Relations
Work with your existing customers and forge new relationships by meeting in person at the show. You’ll be able to see more clients in the few days you’re all in the same city that you could any other time of year – without the travel costs.
Your own specific goals and objectives will vary, but using the general outline above to make sure you cover everything from lead generation to brand awareness and even media relations ensures you make the most out of your show investment.
Planning to attend a trade show can be overwhelming; having a clearly defined set of goals and a timeline can help you spread things out and ensure you have a successful show. From the initial strategizing and planning to the actual day of the event, here’s how to prepare for a successful show.
6 Months to 1 Year: Strategize
Which shows will you attend this year, and what are your goals? How much will it cost to attend and which shows are most likely to help you meet your goals? This is also the time to think about your booth and determine if any changes or additions are needed to suit the space you have in mind. Review last year’s trade show survey results, look at your prospect data and fine tune your strategy for the year to come.
6 Months Before the Show
Start planning for the show by choosing your primary goals, deciding what products or services you’re most interested in showcasing and beginning your marketing strategy. Start building buzz now and your target prospects will be ready to stop by on the big day. This is also the time to book a block of rooms at your hotel (even if you don’t know which specific staffers will be there) and to order promotional items with your business name and information.
Gather information from the host to determine where your booth will be, how the show will be marketed and what materials they’ll need from you. If there is an official show or industry hashtag, now is the time to start using it.
3 Months Before the Show
Choose the staff who will be attending, clear schedules and make any travel arrangements you need to for the event. Work on your technology – what will you use to capture leads, to display presentations or simply entertain guests? Select a lead capture app for trade shows now and make sure everyone knows how to use it. You can also use this time to finalize your marketing materials and to make decisions on your promotional materials and choose a cohesive look for your booth staff.
One Month Before the Show: Finalize Preparations and Pack
Finalize everything, from your booth shipment to your branded materials and promotions. Meet with your show team to discuss the show and your goals and to hand out roles for the big day. Everyone should understand the goal of the show and their particular tasks – this is important if you are bringing along first timers or those who are not salespeople. Talk about lead generation and why making connections is important and make cheat sheets for anyone who needs them. This is also an ideal time to practice skills needed for the show and run through some sample conversational openings and demos with your team.
At the Show
You’ve laid in a lot of groundwork and the big day is here. Get the most from your show experience by getting out there and making connections. Greet visitors, capture leads and pass out promotional products; you’ll benefit from these connections for months to come. This is also an ideal time to make in person connections and sales visits you might otherwise have to travel to make.
After the Show: Follow-Up
One of the most important things you can do – and one of the most often missed – is to follow up with your prospects after the show. Organize the leads generated by your tradeshow lead capture app and distribute them to your sales team, answer any questions that arose and analyze your results to determine if this specific show is worth doing again next year. This is also the time to determine what worked well for your booth and the overall experience and what you might want to change next time. Following up with connections you made via social media and email can also help you solidify your relationship and ensure your brand is remembered long after the show has concluded.
Although every event is different for every brand in terms of goals and opportunities, on-site data capture is that one constant, vital metric all marketers need in order to gain insights and justify event spend.
Since everything, yes everything, can use a bit of improvement, here are some insider tips to legitimately improve your data capture strategy and workflow in 2015.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Tip 1: Choose the right data capture method
Not all platforms are created equal. It’s up to you to determine which one is right for you. Although it is 2015, paper is still largely used to collect data. For obvious reasons, this should be your absolute last resort. You could develop a custom solution, but that will devour your budget. To get the best bang for your buck, choose a mobile app.
Tip 2: Ask the right questions
We’re not going to tell you what information you should collect, because this decision is purely based on the goal of the event, as well as pre-defined measurement programs. The one thing we do keep reiterating is this: choose quality of data over quantity. Your results are only as good as the questions you ask. The more lengthy and wordy your survey is, the greater the risk of abandonment. Brevity is key in research.
DURING THE EVENT
Tip 3: Plan for big crowds
The motto “Be Prepared” isn’t just for Scouts. Ensure that you have enough mobile devices as well as brand ambassadors to meet your data capture target metrics. If you’re expecting large crowds, think about setting up tablet kiosks in high visibility areas. When skinned and branded, these can look pretty enticing on the event floor. They are also shown to attract crowds when tied to an incentive.
Tip 4: Don’t use a solution that relies on internet connectivity
Unique venues like public squares and office buildings are shown to increase engagement levels, especially when the user experience is smooth and fast. If your data capture requires connectivity, ensure that you have a reliable backup plan at hand, or better yet use a mobile solution that works offline.
AFTER THE EVENT
Tip 5: Turn your data into insights quickly
Choose a platform that takes the time and complexity out of data reporting, visualizations and trends analysis. After all, the real value in data capture is being able to act on market and information trends as they are happening. At your event, you’ll quickly want to know key data points such as how many people showed up, what they are saying and which brand ambassador is capturing the most data.
Tip 6: Save time with data integrations
We’re headed towards a future of networked connections, also known as The Internet of Everything. Choose platforms, devices and communications that connect with each other so that the duplication of effort is eliminated. For instance, when you collect marketing opt-ins using QuickTapSurvey, they are fed straight to an email marketing platform like MailChimp.