Best Practices: B2B Trade Shows
Trade shows are a great opportunity . . . to get in front of potential customers, increase brand awareness, launch a new product, connect with industry influences, and tell your story. Salespeople love the thought of an exhibit hall packed with buyers. But before you book your next booth, make sure you’re making the most of the opportunity. A few best practices to help ensure a high ROI for your next show:
1. DEFINED GOALS
What’s the plan? Make sure your team (Sales, Marketing, President) takes time to define goals for each show you plan to attend. Samples goals:
- Generate 10 genuine conversations with ideal prospects (people that fit your target audience: Title, Industry, Revenue etc.) and schedule follow up calls/meetings.
- Make a visible splash to introduce your brand, create awareness and understanding of what you have to offer.
- Introduce yourself to the show’s media partners. Making a favorable impression with the press improves your chances of being contacted for future coverage.
2. RIGHT SHOW
With defined goals in mind, make sure you’re booking the “right” show. How do you know? Characteristics of the right show:
- Your target audience will be there! Ensuring your prospective customer will be in attendance sounds like a no-brainer, but before booking your event dig-in to the show’s demographics/past attendance.
- Location, location, location. The location of your next show should lend itself to meetings with current clients, and/or does not break the budget. Good pre-planning means you’ll have coordinated with clients and high-value prospects months before the show to let them know you’ll be in the area and get on their calendars. Make the most of your temporary zip code!
- Timing works. Don’t book yourself for the “right” show if the timing doesn’t work for your team. If you cannot properly prepare and present yourself, throwing together a few promo items, brochures, and an old banner is not a good investment of your time. You’ll likely leave the wrong impression for your brand and your product. Much better to pass and use the time to prepare for the next opportunity.
3. RIGHT MESSAGE
You’ve got a plan, and you’re at the right place. Off to a good start! Now it’s time to focus on your message.
- Speak to your prospective customer in terms that make sense to them. We are all guilty of abusing acronyms and assuming that our product/solution-specific terms are both known and understood by audience. A simple, hard-hitting message is key – especially when you’re fighting the audio and visual distractions of a trade show.
- Make social media a part of your plan. Engage with customers before, during, and after by creating a strategy that incorporates social media interaction, such as custom hashtags that encourage attendees to connect. Let attendees know you will be at the show and have something of value for your prospects to seek out. When possible, get attendee lists and if you’re not already – start following key prospects on social media. A message such as “Visit our booth to see a live demonstration of #smartscan” can help drive awareness, interest, and booth traffic.
- Social media is also a great post-show communication tool. You can count on attendees scrolling through social media to see themselves online, so make sure you and your message are part of the post.
4. strong visual presence
The design of your booth and visual presence you create is part of your message. With the large number of attendees walking past your booth, you want to make sure your design is bold and will grab attention. Keep all important messaging towards the top of the exhibit so that nothing gets lost at people’s feet. It’s more impactful to have one large graphic than a number of smaller, mismatched banners and signs. Make sure that your graphics and any materials at the booth are cohesive and that your booth staff are coordinated. You only have one moment to make a good impression, make it count!
Even if you have a team working a booth, when there is rush of traffic you will miss the opportunity to talk to people. Having a video loop that plays on a monitor can tell your story and engage people to stop, watch, and hear your story even if you can’t tell it directly to them.
Be selective and make them relevant. Develop a theme that will create a clever and logical reminder to your brand, ideally with a usable or helpful angle. Some attendees make it a hobby to collect “tchotchkes” and aren’t interested in engaging with you. Don’t throw your money away – be selective with your promo items.
6. POST-SHOW FOLLOW-UP
Once a show has closed, it’s important to have a follow up meeting with your team and cover successes and what could have been improved upon. Did your booth see a lot of traffic? Did your message resonate with attendees? Was there good engagement? Did you meet your leads goal? Make sure to add all contacts to your CRM and share the results with your sales team within days of the show closing. Don’t miss out on connecting with potential customers!