It’s that time of year again…no, not holiday shopping time (although that’s just around the corner). It's trade show time, and our events coordinator, Andy Benkert, returned recently from the EAPA convention in Nashville, Tennessee. He was there to help one of our clients with their trade show logistics, and in between set up and tear down, he had a chance to do a little walking and talking with others at the event. Here are a few of his observations about effective trade show marketing to go with those mentioned in previous posts:
This proved to be a show-saver for our company. The exhibit staff obtained the pre-show attendee list and actually used it! Imagine that?!? And, it worked! They were able to set up plenty of meetings with not only prospects, but current clients as well. Pre-show marketing efforts pay off in a couple of ways:
- Actually scheduling meetings with prospective clients or current clients helps to guard against lower-than-expected attendance. It also helps to solidify relationships with your current clients and offers an opportunity to upsell, if appropriate.
- More exposure. Even if you don't schedule a meeting with a prospect you make contact with, you have exposed them to your company and planted a seed.
Our client worked with the event organizer to develop a custom sponsorship not originally offered as part of their sponsorship program (which HRmarketer did as well, at the HR Technology show). This allowed for an opportunity to fit something within their budget while providing additional exposure. Don't hesitate to ask, the worst they can say is "No", and often an event organizer is loathe to say no to money! Be creative and think of possibilities that fit your company, your products, and the particular event. Brainstorm a few ideas and call the sponsorship contact for the event and see if they are open to new ideas. If one isn't, maybe another will be.
This is one I'm sure most think about each time the contract is being filled out, but often isn't really thought out. Take a few minutes to really look at the expo floor layout and identify a few things:
- Entrances and exits. How do people get into and out of the expo hall? What is the flow of traffic going to be? A little planning here could get you a spot with a little higher traffic, which could lead to a few more people stopping by, which could be just
- Bathrooms. Everyone needs to go once in a while.
- Food. Where are people getting it? Where will they eat it? Being near food, or dining areas, can be good for traffic.
- Dynamic speakers or elaborate booths. Do you know of a particular company that seems to pack ‘em in at every show? Try to get a booth position next to them. Or maybe another company has an elaborate booth or brings in a special "show" for their booth. Positioning yourself near another booth that has high traffic will allow you to siphon off some of the folks standing around. Every little bit can help make the difference.
A number of the exhibitors Andy spoke with took time away from their booth to attend a few of the seminars. Most exhibit booths or sponsorships include a full registration for the conference for one of the exhibit staff. Take advantage of that and sit in on some of the seminars. It is a great way to hear what is going on, meet people, and hear what is important to them. There were numerous occasions where he spoke with exhibitors just out of a seminar mention they scheduled a meeting with a prospect at the seminar. One even walked up to the booth with prospect in tow!
Here are a few additional observations from the perspective of one who deals with the logistics and set up of booths:
- Seek the advice of those who work the booth at the events on what works and what doesn't in booth design, layout, literature, and even what events to exhibit at. Here are people who are in the trenches and their input can, and should, make a big difference. Include them early in the process and your booth will look better, your exhibiting dollars will be better spent, and your return will be higher.
- Take the time to set the booth up prior to sending it to the event. Make sure everything fits, works, looks the way it should, isn't too time-consuming or difficult to assemble. Check to ensure the proper tools, supplies, and fittings are present to set up and repackage everything. Did you include packing tape? Or scissors? Make a checklist of incidentals and keep it with the booth to make sure everything your exhibit team needs is included. Trust us, it is a drag - and time-consuming - to go searching for tape, or business card holders, or something else that could have been obtained much easier at home.