Many companies who exhibit at trade shows spend thousands of dollars—some spend millions—in an effort to attract new customers and show off new and improved products. Even though trade show costs continue to increase, attendance is still one of the main ways to meet new customers, making it a worthwhile investment—when done well. Remember: 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and a potential customer for exhibiting companies(1) and 81% of these attendees have buying authority.(2)
Here are a few ideas to consider during the show to help raise awareness and create memorable experiences.
- Be Social: Leverage your trade show presence by using your social media channels to connect with mobile-enabled attendees who are inseparable from their tablets and smartphones. Most tradeshows now even offer their own mobile apps and encourage attendees to promote their events and connect with one another; take advantage of these opportunities and have an assigned social media team in place to manage the proper social media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, others as necessary. Finally, use the show hashtag on all of your posts (especially Twitter) so people can find you.
- Product Launches and Re-launches: The number one reason people attend trade shows (if they are not exhibiting) is to see and learn about new products.(3) But it’s not enough to simply show the features and benefits of your products. Tell a story about your products with graphics and interactive experiences that will keep you in the forefront of their mind.
- The “Smell of Cookies:” This is a trick that has always worked in the real estate industry. How many of us have walked into an open house to the smell of chocolate chip cookies? The Lowes exhibit at the 2014 International Builder Show was packed simply because they were giving away freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Booth staffers asked questions as attendees stood in line, using the opportunity to direct attendees to product demos within the booth. This created an opportunity for the sales team to engage in conversation and find the correct prospect to bring further into the exhibit. While this tactic might not be an exact fit for your business, it’s important to think of what your company’s version of the “freshly-baked cookies” tactic is. Come up with a relevant way to make your booth fun, exciting, and interesting to prospects.
- Engage With Games: Stop giving away your swag and start getting more attendees to enter their information in order to play a game. One example of an easy and successful booth game is a beanbag toss through five holes, decorated with a graphic of various giveaways. If your attendee gets the bag through the hole, then give away your swag.
- Training and Staffing: Staffing your exhibit with the right team is key. This should include trained and knowledgeable salespeople, product managers and engineers. They should be trained to talk to people. This is not the place to bring your new marketing coordinator who doesn’t know the difference between a gusset or grout; likewise, you shouldn’t bring that brilliant engineer who would rather be cooped up in the office than out talking to strangers. Additionally, make sure the booth staff members understand the goals of the trade show, know all the products and how to operate key booth technology like screens and badge scanners.
Exhibiting at trade shows requires a lot of work and a major financial commitment. Done correctly, trade show exhibits can reap rewards that contribute directly to your bottom line. Consider these five tips when putting together your trade show marketing strategy as trade show season approaches.
(1) Source: Exhibit Surveys, Inc.
(2) Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget
(3) Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face
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