The number-one priority of nearly every tradeshow exhibitor is to leave that event with a high number of qualified leads that with proper follow-up can be converted into future customers. Leads replenish the sales pipeline, bring in new customers, and generate sales revenue. Efforts to do this must start by developing a strategy for gathering and qualifying leads in the early planning stages for an event.
Assess an attendee’s interest in addition to obtaining relevant information
Representatives of your company who will be working in your booth need to know in advance what information they need to gather from each attendee to determine whether that person has the potential to buy your product or service. In order to determine that, the booth personnel need to assess an attendee’s interest in addition to obtaining other relevant information on their specific needs, budget requirements, and timing for a potential purchase.
Select an automated tracking system
Automated tracking systems can also facilitate the process of capturing prospects’ contact information, though they might lack the personal contact that conveys that your company is truly interested in their needs and how it might be able to help them meet those needs. Automated tracking systems can be rented and work by electronically capturing data by having booth visitors swipe their badges as they enter the booth.
These systems vary, so do your research. Be sure the system’s output provides all the data you require for post-show marketing initiatives. Educate yourself on which equipment and software will best achieve your objectives. If automated systems can’t provide all the information you need, you might be better off opting for manual means of tracking tradeshow leads.
Know as much as possible about each sales prospect
More is better when it comes to information about potential leads. By knowing as much as possible about a sales prospect, you can devise a more effective follow-up strategy that more closely aligned with the specific needs of each person. In addition, detailed information enables you to evaluate the potential of each lead so you can prioritize your efforts. With detailed lead information, you can fine-tune your post-show marketing efforts and focus on the prospects you can most likely to convert to future customers.
Follow-up after the show is also critically important. Be sure and have booth personnel make note of how each prospect would prefer to be contacted by a company representative. After the show, contact prospects by phone, mail, or email. Be sure and follow up—either by a personal call or written contact—within a week of the show. After the show, track leads to determine each show’s effectiveness and expand efforts in shows with the best return on investment (ROI).
So in the past few weeks we’ve talked about a myriad of trade show topics: how to entertain attendees, how to develop an effective trade show marketing strategy, how to train your booth staff, how to reduce costs, and how to be more eco-friendly. Let’s take a few steps back and determine what are a few of the DOs and DON’Ts of pulling together a successful, enticing tradeshow exhibit.
Preparing for a trade show, especially for small companies, can be a daunting task. Deciding what to include and how to set up an actual exhibit/display is one of the fundamental decisions you’ll have to make. First step is to contact the show managers and find out the size of the booth you will have, whether there is a wall space for your company sign, if there are electrical outlets available, and any other small items that you might be responsible for supplying.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when creating your exhibit:
DON'T overstuff it. Product managers might want to display things that represent every brand or product your company offers. Partners might want their logo splashed all over your booth. Keep in mind that sometimes simpler is better. Booths overcrowded with displays, products, stands, etc., turn off prospective attendees and prevent you from quickly communicating why attendees should visit you.
DO simplify your message. Many exhibitors make the mistake of bombarding their booth visitors with marketing slogans. Instead choose the one core message you want to impart to potential customers and stick to that in terms of graphic presentations. Displaying fewer, but larger visual elements in your exhibit will reduce clutter and better garner an attendee’s attention and create a lasting impression.
DO focus on the cream of the crop. Instead of hauling your entire product line to a tradeshow booth and again cluttering your display, overwhelming visitors, and diluting your marketing message, showcase only your new and top-selling products.
DON’T rely on static displays. Any type of motion captures people’s attention as opposed to static displays. You can take advantage of this by playing a looping DVD on a widescreen TV or make use of a rotating display.
DO maintain a small, private area. If your booth is big enough, it’s nice to have a quiet, private area with a table and a few chairs to take attendees or promising prospects that might like to sit down and discuss your company and its product and services in more detail.
DON’T scrimp on carpet. This might sound silly, but after a long day of walking miles and miles on the unforgiving floors of huge exhibit halls, visitors will appreciate booths that have plush, padded carpet. And, so will your booth workers.
Trade shows are by nature quite chaotic. Attendees bustling from booth to booth while exhibitors fight to garner their attention and interest in their companies’ products or services. Studies have shown that a tradeshow display typically has about three seconds to catch the attention and communicate to a potential customer passing by a booth. To makes things even harder, your booth is competing with possibly hundreds of other displays for attendees’ attention.
So exhibitors have to in a matter of seconds grab attendees’ and potential prospects’ attention and make an immediate impression. Eye-popping, colorful graphics in tradeshow booths are an excellent way to do just that. Graphics in tradeshow booths can include booth signs, displays, banner stands, and even table cloths. So what makes one booth an attention-grabber and another one that’s easily passed by?
Here are some things to think about when you set about creating the graphics that will hopefully deliver a powerful visual punch and grab the attention of potential prospects.
Pick a good color. The right color can help you both convey a message and stand out amidst the sea of competing booths. Warmer colors, such as red, orange and yellow attract more attention than cooler colors, such as blue, green and white.
Keep images simple. Simple, bold and clear images are the most effective in conveying your marketing message to attendees. The more ornate and involved the graphics, the more you risk confusing, overwhelming and distracting booth visitors. If possible, choose just one simple image.
Headlines are key. So put a lot of thought into writing them! Choose your words very carefully and keep it simple, clear and short. This might be the only shot at grabbing the attention of attendees who are giving your booth at most a passing glance. A crafty, compelling headline may be what brings them in to hear more about your company. Also the shorter the headline, the bigger it can be, increasing visibility.
Keep it light. Lighting is very important to helping draw the attention of attendees and in creating a welcoming atmosphere. Be creative with lighting; choose to spotlight a new product or use warmer lighting to create an inviting environment.
Choose a message that packs a punch. This is a tough one. You already know you have to keep it short and sweet with simple imagery. The things that you must communicate are: who you are, what your business does, and what separates you from your competition.
Establishing an effective marketing strategy for a trade show is essential to converting the money spent on exhibits, booth space, and the travel expenses to increased sales. Companies must plan and begin executing their trade show marketing strategy before the show begins and continue after the tradeshow until the last lead has been followed up.
Once a strategy has been devised and bought into by upper management; it’s time to get a plan in place to deploy it. Make sure that your marketing goals are easily measurable so you can easily assess the effectiveness of your plan after the show and determine the role trade shows will play in your future marketing plans.
Here are a few things that can help you develop and deploy an effective trade show marketing strategy so that you can be the "talk of the show."
Before the show
Trade show organizers will supply you with a list of preregistered attendees. Use this list to contact registrants via phone calls, written invitations to promotional events at the show, direct mail, and emails. A teaser that gives attendees a reason to stop by your booth (free giveaways, enticing entertainment, etc.) can help boost traffic. Well before the show, be sure and add sections to your website such as forums, event calendars, and newsletters to reach a large portion of customers and leads.
During the show
These marketing activities include live demos, in-booth entertainment or attractions, audiovisual programs, tradeshow giveaways, and free food and beverages, if permitted.
Effective marketing during the show is contingent upon having a well-trained and professional staff manning your booth. Getting attendees to stop by the booth will only get you so far. After that, it’s up to your employees to welcome them, introduce themselves, and give them a quick overview of your company and its products or services. Be sure that booth workers take notes and obtain contact information along with information specific to that person that might come in handy when contacting them after the show.
After the show
This is where many companies fall short. If you want to convert sales leads into actuall sales, this needs to be an essential part of your marketing plan. Thanking attendees and following up with them is important if you want them as future customers. Follow up within a week of the show by sending a personalized note, along with any marketing material you deem appropriate for that particular prospect.
In the weeks following the show, attendees will be besieged with emails, sales collateral, and sales pitches via social networking sites from exhibitors. Set your company apart from the sea of competitors by making personal phone calls to promising sales prospects. This extra effort confirms your company’s commitment to service and establishes a pathway to building a relationship with a future customer.
All these marketing strategies should be built around establishing and reinforcing your company’s commitment to quality and customer care. Implementing a trade show marketing plan that focuses on relationship management and personalized attention to prospects as well as current customers will go a long way towards growing your business and increasing sales.
Thanks to the incredible proliferation of the Apple iPhone and its many clones, the market has been flooded with an enormous number of amazingly sophisticated, full- featured and surprisingly inexpensive mobile apps. There are apps for everything. Literally. Tradeshows are no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the apps hitting the market that might make trade shows—organizing them, exhibiting at them, and attending them—easier than ever before.
Courtesy of AppleNever get lost again. There are many apps now available for the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry operating systems that offer users interactive maps of trade show venues and enable users to search for specific vendors and exhibitors of interest to them. These apps include SwiftMobile, ChirpE, and EventMobi. The SwiftMobile app offers a few extra perks such as links to local restaurants, hotels, and merchants; local transit information; and a calendar with Twitter event hash-tag links. EventMobi enables users to poll attendees and provide analytics for mobile and in- person engagement.
Swapping business cards is so yesterday. Mobile business card reader apps might make the swapping of business cards a thing of the past. These apps, such as CamCard and CardMunch, let users take a photo of any business card with a mobile phone. The contact information is then automatically stored in your phone’s address book. An app called Bump lets users share contact information and instantaneously connect on social networks and share calendars and media files, by simply “bumping” one phone to another. Bump is currently available for the iPhone and Android.
Stay organized amid chaos. Apps, such as Grupio, enable users to upload content via a Web-based interface or spreadsheet program to access event schedules, personal schedules, sponsor and exhibit information, and speaker profiles. It also features push notifications and SMS messaging, Facebook and Twitter integration, surveys and instant polling, floor plans and banner ads. Works with iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones.
Greener trade shows. A new app from Vertiglo—touted as the first app developed specifically for show organizers—will help trade show organizers make their shows more eco-friendly by eliminating paper kits and packets for exhibitors and attendees. Users of the app will be able to directly access order and display information; add equipment and supplies in real time; and pay fees and balances. This app will make its debut this summer.
Retrieving leads has never been easier. The whole point of exhibiting at a trade show is to obtain a high number of qualified leads that can ultimately generate after-shows sales. New apps like iLeads and NewLeads enable exhibitors to easily capture leads anywhere by simply entering an attendee’s badge number into their smart phone. Leads are uploaded to a secure website for easy retrieval and lead management. Currently iLeads is only available on Apple iPhones and iPads; NewLeads is available on iPhones, iPads and other smart phones.
Equip your team with smart phones and apps that will help them stay in touch with key prospects during the show. Get ideas on How you can make sure you use social media and digital marketing to drive trade show sales with our FREE Social Media & Digital Marketing Report!
It’s hard to walk the walk, when you can’t talk the “talk” of the trade show world. We’re making it easier on you by creating a free downloadable glossary of terms, containing all the terms you need to know to look like a pro at your next trade show.
Here are just a few of trade show terms you’ll need to know to feel and sound like a real trade show insider:
Advanced Order- An order for show services sent to the contractor before actual move in.
Baffle- The partition to control light, air, sound or traffic flow.
Bill of Lading- Document or form listing goods to be shipped.
Blanket Wrap- Non-crated freight shipped via van line covered in protective blankets or padding.
Bone Yard- Equipment storage area at an exhibition hall.
Chevron- Type of cloth used for backdrops.
Consignee- The person to whom goods are shipped.
Corkage- The charge placed on beer, liquor, and win brought into the facility but purchased elsewhere. The charge sometimes includes glassware, ice, and mixers.
C.W.T.- Hundredweight- A measurement of the weight of exhibit freight. Usually 100 lbs.
Drayage- The unloading of your shipment at an exhibit hall, transporting it to your booth, storing and returning your empty crates and cartons, and reloading your shipment at the close of the show.
Duplex Outlet- Double electrical outlet.
Floater- Worker(s) used by a foreman to help assigned labor for short periods of time.
Foam Core- Lightweight material with a Styrofoam center used for signs, decorating, and exhibit construction.
Four-Hour Call- Minimum work period for which union labor must be paid.
I & D- Install and dismantle.
Infringement- Use of floor space outside exclusive booth area.
Marshalling Yard- Check-in area for trucks delivering exhibit material.
Pegboard panel- Framed panel of perforated hardboard. Pipe and
Drape- Tubing with drapes that separate exhibit booths.
Pro-Number- Number assigned by the freight forwarders to a single shipment; used in all cases where reference is made to the shipment.
Staging Area- Area adjacent to main event area for setup, dismantling, and temporary storage.
Stanchions- Decorative posts that hold markers or flags to define traffic areas. Ropes or chains may be attached.
Union Steward- On-site union official.
WARP, WEFT, & BIAS- The three ways fabric stretches, length, width and diagonal.
Yaw- Key stoning effect on a projection.
But wait, there’s more. For a complete list of terms to know, download the FREE Glossary of Trade Show Exhibit Terms!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), trade shows are the #2 producer of waste in the U.S., following the construction industry, a dubious honor indeed. So what can you do as an exhibitor to be more environmentally responsible? Though it would be difficult, if not impossible, to have a tradeshow exhibit that’s is 100% sustainable, the goal of many companies is to move more in the “green” direction. Doing so might not be as difficult as it once was as many exhibit companies are now offering more and more sustainable exhibits.
What makes it eco-friendly? Good question. Let’s take a look at some of the options for companies wanting to create eco-friendly exhibits.
One way to reduce waste is to choose exhibits made from materials that are eco-friendly, meaning they are made of renewable, recycled and sustainable materials. The frames of exhibit systems can be made out of aluminum, which is 100% recyclable. Substrates, panels, banner stands can be constructed out of other recyclable materials, such as Sorghum, bamboo, PET plastic, cardboard, and biodegradable foam board.
Another huge energy waster is lighting. Choose LED lighting instead, which reduces energy usage by 90%. Exhibitors can even go green on the printing on displays by using low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) inks and eco materials.
Lest we forget shipping, many exhibit companies are offering shipping cases that are made entirely of recycled plastic so the entire case can be recycled. These are also often very lightweight, again reducing the amount of energy, or carbon footprint, associating with shipping it.
Trade shows are excellent forums to showcase new products and reach customers and prospects with your marketing message, but they are expensive. Cutting trade shows out of your marketing budget entirely, however, is pound-wise and penny foolish. Let’s take a look at some ways you can shave costs out of your trade show budget without sacrificing the impact of your exhibit.
Rent instead of own. Some companies get weighed down by the expense of owning their own exhibits; not just the initial expense but the costs associated with storing, shipping, prepping, maintaining, as well material handling expenses once it has been received at the show site.
Bring your own supplies. Renting supplies at a trade show can put a serious crimp in efforts to reduce costs. Though it might seem more cost-efficient to avoid the costs of shipping things such as tables, carpet, chairs, etc., the reality is that you can save by shipping and reusing your own.
Leverage tradeshow materials for other uses. Banners or posters used at trade shows make great visual advertisements in the front window of retail stores. Brochures not given out at shows can double for customer/prospect mailings.
Get handy. One way to save big is to bring your own tools and put your booth staff to work setting up everything that’s not mandated by trade show labor rules.
Negotiate booth rent. Exhibition companies have been hit pretty hard by the recession. What’s bad news for them could be good news for exhibitors. If you’ve exhibited at the same trade show for years, try and renegotiate your booth rent with the tradeshow organizer. Agreeing to sign a multi-year contract might help hasten a deal as organizers are looking to keep you as a long-term exhibitor.
Go smaller. Booth rent accounts for approximately 20% of your total trade show costs, so reducing the size of your booth can have an immediate and big impact on your bottom line.
Ship early. If you are shipping your exhibit or supplies to a show, be sure and plan to ship well ahead of time so you can send all items in the slowest, least expensive way possible. Also check out whether you can ship some items locally instead of from your location.