Increasing Your Trade Show Return On Investment (TS-ROI) - Part 2

  • Jun 20, 2017

In the first part of this series we discussed some of the key elements of pre-show planning.  In this section we will review what happens at the show, how to help it run smoothly and provide greater results. 


STAGE 2 - The Show:

The day of the show has arrived and it is go time.  Make sure to review with each staff member their role and responsibility before the show starts, and plan a post-show review for each night to discuss any issues that might be addressed and corrected overnight.  For many the show will continue on into the evening with dinners and meetings while you work to ensure that the next day is staged and ready to go by the time the staff arrives the next day.  Have snacks and bottled water available for your staff as they might not be able to get away as often as needed to stay hydrated and the snacks help them stay energized and focused.

Ensure each has their show materials, i.e. a show book (or tablet) with the information they are going to need during the show.  Both customer and prospect lists should be provided, along with the name of the Executive they should meet, their salesperson and any other pertinent information (invite to dinner with executives, etc.).  Too often at trade shows the most important contacts come through a booth and are not recognized.  Facebook and LinkedIn, and even some company websites can provide you with a photo of those top people to further help your staff recognize those key players.  As mentioned above, I would suggest that you try to do this digitally so that if that same person stops back on another day, looks them up they will know this attendee has stopped back and you can gear their questions to why they came back. 

If you sent pre-show invites to those key people make sure that your staff knows who they are and makes a big deal about their stopping by the booth, making them feel important to your organization.  Offer them a gift of appreciation for stopping by the booth.  If you sent out a pre-show invite with part of the gift, engage them in conversation while you retrieve the other half of their gift.  Start to build that relationship and introduce that person to key people in the booth before you let them go.  Remember, there is only a short amount of time to make a good impression and gather the information needed for the post-show follow up.    

Have a collection of useful promotional products on hand with your company information on them.  Studies have shown that people will keep a useful promotional product for up to 2 years after they have received it and most can tell you who gave it to them and why.  It is a great way to keep your name front of mind long after the show has ended. 

Knowing who you want to see is only part of the show’s success; you also want to identify those who did not pre-register or are potential new customers.  Part of the pre-show planning is to develop a few pre-qualification questions to help your staff identify potential new customer prospects.  Remember to try to keep the questions conversational such as, “So, what brings you to the show?” or “What have you seen that really surprised you at this show?”  Both questions will give you a better understanding of what their looking to accomplish at the show.  Make a note of their answers along with their name and company. 

If you are using a tablet there are many survey apps out there that you can pre-set so that your team is asking the same questions of each person and filling in the survey as they talk to the contact.  As they complete the survey you now have a record and a contact for post-show follow-up.  You can also set the survey up to have the attendee fill out when they stop by the booth and use a free promotional gift as an incentive for them to fill out the survey.  Make sure to keep the survey short or they will not want to fill it out.  Just the basic with a couple of qualifying questions is all you need.  The rest can be obtained in the post-show follow up call or meeting.

As part of your plan you should make sure that you spend some reconnaissance time walking the show floor to see how your competitors are presenting themselves.  Understand what their value proposition is and what your key differentiators are.  Share those with your show staff so they can be prepared to talk about what makes you the better choice for those visiting your booth.  Make sure they also have time to walk the show as it will allow them to see what the competitors are doing, or to help identify ancillary products that might compliment your product or service that you can discuss with your customers and prospects.

Lastly, make this a social media event for your company.  Use social media apps such as Foursquare to let your tech savvy customers know your location.  Offer an incentive for them to stop by and “check-in.”  Post videos and in-booth presentations to YouTube.  Tweet to the show’s #hashtag, set up your own #hashtag, and communicate with your customers through their @twitter usernames.  Suggest a tweetup at a local hotspot after the show ends. 

This is a great way to show current and potential customers that you are familiar with social media and you will be able to reach some of the younger attendees that might be new to the trade show environment and looking for others that might be going through the same experience.  Being the company that pulls these people together in a fun way will have them talking about your staff and your company for days upon their return, and will most likely stay in touch with your staff in the future.

As you wrap up the show and head back to the office its time to put the final part of the plan in motion.  Part 3 will cover the post show follow up, assessment of the show and your participation next year, and if you decide to attend making your pre-show planning notes for next year’s show now.  

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  • Tags: Trade Shows