One of the best ways to have a direct contact with your valued customers and prospects is a trade show or trade fair. Now this picks up a question that what are trade shows? Well, an exhibition organized where companies of a specific industry or many a times coming from varied industry backgrounds can advertise and promote their new products and services is called a trade show. Thinking about taking part in a trade show itself gives rise to many problems. Say for example:
Which is the best trade show?
Now, the show you selected is it the best for your product or service and does it meet your particular needs? For this some analytical research is required. You should look in for the geographic area, market volume served by the show, type of business like conference, self drive etc and whether there is potential for growth etc. The research can be done by talking to the previous attendees of the show, overseas trade partners, checking out the description of the show in detail, comparing the attendance cost against that of marketing activities etc.
Selecting the show is the most important question. Your industry’s association is the ideal place to start with. You can even inquire with trade publications and another important resource is of course the Web. Make sure you go through more than one directory, as no list is entirely complete.
How do you ensure that you will get back the maximum of your input?
Making the most of the show is the most important issue to look after. Trade shows are crowded, hectic and often overwhelming. A large part of the success comes from knowing what to do to entice prospects while in a crowded, often frenetic trade fair atmosphere to meet the key people. Below are some checklists: –
The perfect sales pitch: when you’ve the perfect sales pitch, appealing to potential clients is always easier. Your sales pitch should be short, crisp, to the point and yet at the same time impressive.
Managing the show schedule and materials: paperwork is the most tedious part of any job, so be prepared if you’re involved in managing the company’s trade shows! Fill out the exhibitor application form completely and carefully.
Record visitor contact data: make sure that you keep a record of the visitor’s key contact information and their individual interest – whether they were interested in one of your products or services your company offers. A well prepared spreadsheet or simple lined paper to record what the visitor was interested in can be of real help for proper following up with the real targets.
Lead tracking: 80% of your leads are never followed up! So setting up a system that ensures adequate follow-up is one more thing for you to look after. You can assign one person the responsibility of managing your company lead. This way you wont have your leads falling into cracks.
Post show strategies: A great booth doesn’t mean only good traffic at your booth! About 90% of the literature, which is picked up in a show, is irrelevant. So a well organized follow up is required so that you can translate the leads generated into sales for your company. This will help you optimize your investment in the trade show.
o First sort out the information, which needs to be followed up.
o Then send lead response letters.
o Make sure they are sent in a timely manner.
o You can distribute the leads among sales reps so as to avoid confusion and ensure quality follow up.
o Make sure that your sales reps are actually calling up the contacts given to them.
What kind of display is needed?
Advertisement: to hit the correct audience, proper advertisement and presentation is required. Invite your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the show. Make sure you put it in your website, if you have one. Now the next step is to look after your booth, its location and outlook. You need to take care of the design of your booth. How to decorate it to make it attractive and impressive so that you can communicate who you are, what you do, and what your product or service is — all in three seconds! Let your booth be simple, clean and clear.
Who is the target audience?
To grasp the people most likely to purchase your product or service, try the following strategies:
o Select and join few professional organizations before attending a large trade event in your industry.
o Keep yourself updated with the list of upcoming trade events, so that you can plan which ones will be the most profitable for you.
o To evaluate your competition, you can study other people’s marketing literature. This way, a sales pitch that sets you apart from the rest can be prepared.
How should you budget for the show?
Planning for a trade show requires a good analysis of the cost that would be involved and for this you need to make a proper budget. Some of the major expenses which you should analyze are exhibiting space like booth space, staff registration, and then display expenses like those of advertising, shelves and containers, lighting, and graphics along with this you should also count the expenses such as freight transportation, marketing, show services and some miscellaneous items’ charges. But don’t you forget to make a rough estimate of the personal cost like hotel and accommodation, travel, meal and out of pocket expenses etc.
Apart from the above mentioned checklists, there are always little things, which you don’t think about, but they greatly affect your show. Such as: –
Compiling a database of suitable people prior to the show that you need to contact.
Always have plenty of time to ship brochures, pamphlets, and etc marketing materials because you are never sure of the last minute delays.
Training your booth staffers: Training your booth staffers is an important step to take to have a successful and good exhibiting experience as your staff accounts for the 90% positive feelings that your show attendees have. Ensure a few things:
o They are not busy on the phone!
o They have the correct body language.
o Ensure that they have a pen and a lead form always ready
Do a good research on the local business customs.
Prepare a contact sheet well in advance with all the information you might need to contact the visitors and the prospective customers after the show is over.
Always book a hotel close to the trade show venue.
Always try and choose staffs that can speak the local language of the market from where the attendees come.
Make sure your staffs are well dressed.
Always try and network with fellow exhibitors during free time.
Establish and order target and try to achieve it by the end of the day.
Always remember people tend to forget things very easily, so a proper follow up is a must and the most essential part of your trade show.
Now you must be thinking that all these are good enough but how to boost up the traffic to your show? The answer to this is very simple!
Make pre show promotions so that the people know about your show well in advance.
Give invitations to your business contacts and the people you know.
Promote your show in your website if you have one.
Most organizers even have website, and thus is a great way to promote you as they do have an exhibiting list.
You can hold competitions so that buyers will get interested to visit your booth.
You can boost the traffic by direct mailing.
You can hire a qualified trade show booster, who will bring excitement, energy, salesmanship, and professionalism into your booth.
Promotion ideas for the show:
You can have a corporate even planned to promote your show.
You can have some trade show giveaways, promotional products planned and designed and can distribute it before the show starts so that you have more visitors coming to your booth.
Plan for a proper advertisement campaign, pre show.
Let you colleagues, relatives, friends and all the acquaintances know about your participation in the show.
If you are participating in some special events, promote about your show there.
You can distribute fliers, pamphlets, brochures etc to promote your show.
In short it is all about how to make the most of the show, and how to breakthrough the traffic, and the promotion and planning of the show. If you want to get in front of a lot of customers in a short span of time, trade show is the best way for which specific measurable goals are required if you want to succeed in the show.
You need to start planning for the show months in advance. You can divide your entire planning into several phases. Say for example, you can have the first phase in which you will analyze how you will use the show as part of your marketing strategy, then develop a budget and do a quality research.
As this phase ends, you should then think about setting specific objectives for your show, identifying the space you will need to exhibit yourself, decide on the promotional materials and finally register and reserve your space with the event sponsor.
After deciding on these stuffs, you should develop a three stage marketing strategy: pre show, at show and post show. Then you should look in for the ideal sales pitch and efficient staffs to support and help you manage the show. Then you should select vendors and begin the designing stuffs for your marketing material.
Then finally before 3 to 6 months, you should order for your giveaways or promotional items along with working on the display of your booth etc. finally you should begin making travel arrangements and launch pre show marketing initiatives.
Now as the show timing is coming near and near, not even 3 months to go, you should finalize all your travel arrangements and make a proper schedule for staff training. Contact the event manager for last minute details and finalize production of promotional items, booth display. And finally schedule dinners or meetings with prospects, distributors etc if you plan to have, to be held at the show.
With just one week to go, ensure that the staff training is complete and double check that all things are done on timeline so as to avoid last minute harassment.
Finally after all the planning and strategies, the show is over. But is it actually over? No not yet! There is still a lot left to be done. If a successful show is not followed up efficiently and properly, all goes the effort goes for a six! So after the show, first of all analyze the leads and do the necessary follow ups and make appropriate contacts. Evaluate the success of the show comparing your objectives with the plans for the show. Review your budget with the actual expenses and determine return on investment.