1) DECIDE ON YOUR WHY.
Marketing guru Simon Sinek says that the biggest question that every company needs to answer in order to be successful is: Why are we doing what we’re doing? According to Sinek, your “Why?” is all about your purpose, and purpose determines everything else. Your company’s answer to this questino should drive every other decision you make. Sinek’s model for decision-making recommends that companies start by asking why they do what they do then you should really take the time to answer questions about how they will do it, and finally determine what it is that they will do. By you adopting this model for tradeshow planning, you might come up with the following:
WHY do we attend tradeshows? To gather leads and expand our branding in the hope that it will eventually help us sell to more customers in a highly competive industry.
HOW will we get those leads and convert them into paying customers? By gathering email addresses and phone numbers for potential buyers we can then follow up with and market to via email or other means.
WHAT is our plan? What specifically are we doing? We are attending tradeshows directed at a targeted industry. We will offer a giveaway to entice prospects to leave their business cards or give us their email addresses. We will follow up with those leads with an email and/or phone campaign.
This is just one simple example. Your “Why?” may be something totally different, but by using this method you will be able to create a the base or foundation for your tradeshow planning and success.
2) SET UP APPOINTMENTS IN ADVANCE.
Tradeshows aren’t just about gathering new leads. They can be a great opportunity to keep in touch with current customers or meet with new ones who can be instumental in maintaining and gorwing your business. To ensure your trade show investment will be as effective as possible, establish meetings ahead of time. Doing this during low traffic times can be a great way to make sure that your time is spent wisely. Plus an empty booth doesnt garner the attention that a full booth does.
3) ESTABLISH A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION.
In order to track your success, you need a clear call to action and a metric that will help you determine whether your efforts are successful. These tactics are often focused on lead generation, and they can be easily tracked. Here are a few examples:
establish a landing page on your website that you will promote in your booth, encourage people to visit and download information and set appointments
Run a contest in the booth, give away free coffee or other beverages and encourage attendees to enter to win items. all of these of course should be tied to gathering contact info.
Create a hashtag for use on social media and encourage people to use it. depending on your industry this may be a tough one, but if it works, it is highly trackable.
4) PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE BOOTH.
If lead generation is your “WHY,” consider putting a marketing person in the booth, in addition to customer service or salespeople. Keep in mind that the priorities and skillsets of salespeople, and those of marketing people are often quite different. Having multiple skillsets will allows you to better manage your booth traffic and put the right person with the right potential client.
5) FOLLOW UP PROMPTLY.
The sooner you are able to follow up with leads after a show, the better. This ensures that they still remember you, and are more likely to positively respond to you. Many companies do this by uploading customer lists to the home office at the end of each day and sending a follow-up email to thank visitors for stopping by. If same-day follow up isn’t possible, then be sure to follow up within 3 days and do it by phone whenever possible.
6) LIMIT GIVEAWAYS.
Limit giveaways to those who give you their contact information. In other words, try to avoid giving marketing collateral to unqualified leads. Instead, start the conversation off by offering your business card. Then talk with the potential client and qualify them. if they are qualified, make sure to gather their contact information, give them collateral and of course set a follow-up appointment.
7) DO A TRADE SHOW POST-MORTEM.
At the end of the show, go over the show results with the entire team. What worked well, what didn’t, and what should be done differently next time? Will you attend again in the future? Document this information, and use it when creating your tradeshow strategies for your next show.