Notes from an Exhibiting Webinar, Part 1

Our Events Research Manager, Andy Benkert, recently attended the SHRM Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C., and this year's was the biggest yet! As always there were those HR suppliers who did it right, and those who unfortunately did not. Proper planning for a trade show is the key to greater lead generation and higher ROI.

And in regards to proper planning, Andy also participated in a Webinar last week about “exhibiting success” by Jefferson Davis, hosted by the Association for Financial Professionals, that was entitled “How to Effectively Plan, Prepare and Promote Your Exhibit for Maximum Results.” He learned a lot and we thought we’d share some of the insights – a sort of Cliff’s Notes if you will.

Mr. Davis has identified four critical elements to achieve exhibiting success:
  1. Identify sales and marketing objectives to take advantage of opportunities at a trade show
  2. Utilize pre-show marketing to identify and attract the right people to your booth;
  3. Deliver value to the visitor that will gain a commitment to a next step, and;
  4. Follow-up!
Of these, we’d like to touch on the first two, as it seems these will have the most impact. Let’s start with the first: “identify sales and marketing objectives to take advantage of opportunities at a trade show.”

Seems simple enough, right? Not so much, it would seem. The problem is that most exhibitors don’t actually take the time to formulate a plan for their exhibiting activities. Whether you are going to work one show or ten you need a plan with real, measurable objectives and goals to be successful. The time spent doing this will pay dividends not only for one show, but all shows at which you plan to exhibit. The basic plan can be adapted to a variety of shows or other marketing activities and will drive goals-oriented outcomes.

Ninety-five percent (yes, 95!) of pre-show preparation time is spent on logistics – getting the booth, staff and literature there, hotel accommodations, meals, etc. Turn that number on its’ head and spend the majority of your time creating a plan for success. Here are a few things to consider:
While this process may seem to some like a waste of time, actually putting goals down on paper and converting them to something actionable will help focus your exhibiting efforts. Instead of saying you want to “get some business” or “capture leads”, be specific and list your top three reasons for exhibiting. It could be that you want to introduce a new product, or generate leads, or whatever. Identify those reasons important to your company and then build goals around each by using a technique called SMART goals:
A SMART goal could read: “By the end of the show, we will have captured at least 20 qualified leads.” This goal touches on all the SMART points and helps focus not only the goals, but the process by which they will be delivered. From here, a plan to achieve those goals identified would involve the following elements:
By identifying objectives and creating a plan by which those objectives will be achieved, you will do far more than most exhibitors at the shows you work and will see real, measurable results.

More coming in part 2...