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Great marketing tips for trade show success.


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Need Trade Show Help?
Use these insider tips to help you save money, save time and take advantage of free stuff.

For more marketing tips, follow me on Twitter @LisaMasiello.

Published in: Marketing, Business, Technology
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Great marketing tips for trade show success.

  1. 1. 44½ Tips f o r Trade Show Success Great Need Trade Show Help? Use these insider tips to help you save money, save time and take advantage of free stuff.
  2. 2. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success Whether you’re just starting out and new to trade show management or you’re a seasoned professional with trade shows as part of your marketing strategy, these insider tips will help you save money, save time and take advantage of free resources you shouldn’t overlook. They’re divided into pre-show activities, things you should do at the show and post show follow-up activities.
  3. 3. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 1. If You’re Given A Pre-Registered List, Use It. Depending on the type of show you’ve chosen to attend and the package, sponsorships and booth size you choose to purchase, you may be given the list of pre-registered attendees by the show organizers. Use it! Market to these people both before and after the show. Before the show, create an email campaign or direct mail piece with a very specific call to action―inviting the attendees to stop by your booth with a special offer code or to bring the actual piece that they received to get something special in your booth. You’ll attract additional attendees to your booth and better understand the success of your campaign by the number of people who stopped by. This pre-registered show list should also be made available to your sales team to follow up with phone calls before and after the show. Pre-Show Tips
  4. 4. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 2. A Shipping Alternative. If you have a small table top or 10x10 booth that fits into 1 or 2 plastic cases, why pay for expensive shipping through a trucking company or FedEx, UPS, DHL or some other carrier? To save money, you can bring these items with you to the airport and check the cases as luggage. There will be a cost to do this but certainly nowhere near what it would cost you to have a shipping company send your cases. If you're willing to schlep the cases around yourself, it can save you significant money. Pre-Show Tips
  5. 5. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 3. What’s A Show Decorator And Why Should I Care? The show decorator is the company that has been hired by the convention center, expo hall or large hotel to manage all aspects of the show. Well known show decorator firms include GES and Freeman, among many others. They normally provide the labor you see moving boxes to your booth, exhibit hall decorating, shipping and receiving, booth assembly and dismantling, signage, furniture rental, electrical, custom booth rental and cleaning services. As soon as you’ve reserved your space for the show, it’s important that you thoroughly review your show decorator’s “Exhibitor Guide.” This is the master document (usually a pdf file) that contains all of the details that you need to know about the show including deadlines, discounts on renting materials, special requirements and so much more. It’s important to remember that every show is different so even if you’ve managed many shows in the past, be sure that a review of the Exhibitor Guide is one of the first things that you do. Pre-Show Tips
  6. 6. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 4. Should We Exhibit Next Year? Having a sales person say that they thought it was a "good show" is not good enough to determine if you should spend the money, time and resources to exhibit at the show again next year. Setting specific, measurable goals for qualified leads, new customers and increased revenue will help you make a more informed and financially responsible decision as to whether or not to attend again in the future. Pre-Show Tips
  7. 7. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 5. What’s Your Plan B? The key take away here is to plan, plan and plan some more. You may have done everything perfectly―gotten fantastic tchotchkes to give out at your booth, secured a speaking spot and have 250 people confirmed to attend your networking event. But what happens if your literature doesn't arrive, you forgot to order electricity or, god forbid, a section of your booth goes missing? What if one of your employees gets sick and can't go to the show? What’s your backup plan? Even those of us who have managed lots of shows get blindsided every so often by things that are out of our control. How quickly you can think on your feet and whether you have a backup plan can make all the difference and ensure that you have a successful show. Pre-Show Tips
  8. 8. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 6. Give A Presentation. Participating in speaking sessions where subject matter experts discuss relevant topics or provide educational instruction can be a great benefit to a company looking to break into a new market or position itself and the speaker as an industry leader. Other than the travel expense for an out of town event, the opportunity to speak is often free (although not always). There are generally 3 primary ways in which you can speak: 1. Free and open to anyone: Some shows open this opportunity to anyone who wants to speak on one of the topic categories chosen by the show management. When reviewing a trade show’s website, find out if they’re accepting speaker abstracts or there is a “call for papers” and when your submission is due. The abstract, which is usually a 1 or 2 paragraph overview of what you will speak about and what the attendees should expect to learn, will need to be submitted with the application. Approximately 4-6 weeks later you’ll be notified if you’ve been selected. Be careful if you’re accepted: some shows will allow you to substitute the speaker you originally submitted for someone else in your company if the original speaker is unable to attend. Some shows will not allow this and could eliminate your session, replacing it with another company/topic if you attempt to switch speakers. (continued on next page.) Pre-Show Tips
  9. 9. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 6. Give A Presentation. (continued from previous page.) 2. Pay to play: Some shows offer a speaking opportunity only to those companies who have purchased a large booth space or a sponsorship package. This is usually listed as part of the sponsorship description. If the show is very important to your business and you would consider purchasing a large booth or sponsorship anyway, then this is a good opportunity for you. If you would only pay the extra cost to be able to get a speaking spot then you need to decide if the added expense is worth it. 3. Invitation only: For other shows, the ability to speak is by invitation only. This is frequently the case for shows run by large companies, like Microsoft, for example, where the event may be specifically targeted at vendors, channel partners or customers. If you have a relationship with the company managing the show, and have not already been approached about speaking, discuss your participation at the event with your account manager or other contact. They may not be able to give you your own session but may be able to add you to a panel discussion which includes other vendors, customers or partners. Pre-Show Tips
  10. 10. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 7. Exhibit or Bust? Maybe Not. Are you on the fence about whether to exhibit at a specific show? It seems like the right audience. There’ll be thousands of attendees and we’re trying to grow our business in this market. But is it really the right show for us? Why not send 1 or 2 people to the show as attendees to gain an insiders perspective as to whether it’s really appropriate for your business? If it is, you’ve hopefully made some initial contacts and will be better prepared to exhibit next year. If not, you’ll have saved a lot of money by learning that this show isn’t really the one for your company. Pre-Show Tips
  11. 11. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 8. So Sorry Your Poster Is Damaged. To ensure that posters and other graphics will get to your booth in one piece without bent corners or other damage, you may want to consider designing your show graphics as you normally do and then uploading your files to the FedEx Office Print Center, FASTSIGNS, Staples or other printing company that has an office near the convention center where the show is taking place. You can place the order online and you or a member of your team can pick up the graphics when you arrive in that city to set up your booth before the show. There are benefits and drawbacks to doing this: 1. Benefit: This will save on shipping costs and ensure the graphics are not damaged along the way. Just take into consideration the size of your graphics and how you will physically get them to your booth if they are not shipped with the rest of your materials. 2. Drawback: Graphics that are too big for you to handle yourself may require you to hire people to bring it from the printer to the hall. This additional cost may wipe out the savings that you got from not shipping the graphics. Just know that the ability to design your graphics locally and have them printed in the show city, possibly thousands of miles away, is available to you. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. It’s also an excellent option if you need to have something created last minute and won’t have time to ship it. Pre-Show Tips
  12. 12. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 9. What Are You Doing For Your Customers? The intent of most exhibitors is to engage prospects, qualify leads and close new deals. But, don’t forget about the customers you already have. Take the opportunity in whatever city the show is located to reach out to and engage your current customers in that area or those you know will be attending the show. Before the show, do a search of your database for customers within a 100 mile radius of the convention center. Let them know that you will be at the show. Send out invitations to an after hours networking reception or a customer appreciation dinner. This will give you additional face time with customers and enable you to gain valuable insights by talking with them about your products/services, what they think your company is doing well and what you could be doing better. Members of your sales team can also arrive at the show a day or two early or stay after the show has ended to have in-person meetings at your customers' offices. Don’t ignore this opportunity to personally engage your existing customers and show them how valuable they are to you. Pre-Show Tips
  13. 13. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 10. Help A Reporter Out. Every show usually includes some members of the press whether reporters, bloggers, analysts or other industry influencers who come to check out what’s new and different in the areas in which they write. Some shows provide exhibitors with a pre-registered attendee list which includes names of the press. Others set up a networking website where all attendees and exhibitors can network online to schedule meetings at the show. Take advantage of this huge opportunity and reach out to reporters who you feel would be interested in learning more about what your company is doing, new product announcements, a sneak peak at new technologies, etc. Invite them to your booth, to a networking event, reception or even just a cup of coffee. It doesn't have to be a formal sit down interview with an article posted the next day, although that would be great. At least introduce them to your company, your team, your products and how you stand out from your competitors. Offer to be their go to contact when they have general questions about your industry or are looking for an alternative opinion when writing about a topic you’re expert in. Meeting in person at the show may possibly garner immediate press but, more importantly, can lay the groundwork for long term relationships and many future press opportunities. Pre-Show Tips
  14. 14. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 11. What If Marketing Can’t Attend? It's usually the responsibility of the trade show manager or a marketing team member to manage the company's participation on-site. If you won’t be sending a marketing person to the show, be sure to designate another person from your company as the show manager. They should be able to arrive before the show begins to manage your booth’s installation and able to stay after the show ends to manage the shipment back to your office or exhibit house. Be sure to give them copies of everything―from electrical, carpeting and furniture forms, to the name and phone number of the shipping company, hotel reservation numbers, cell phone numbers of all employees, extra company-branded shirts for exhibit staff, booth duty schedule and a company credit card number for additional expenses. There’s no detail that’s too small. Make sure they have all of the information at their finger tips and don't have to call or email back to the office which may cause delays in resolving issues. Pre-Show Tips
  15. 15. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 12. For Immediate Release. Are you speaking at an upcoming show? Will you be launching a new product or service? Are you a conference sponsor? Let people know. Write and distribute a press release 3-4 weeks before the show takes place. This will generate additional pre-show interest, enable attendees to add your activities to their calendar of things to do at the show before it fills up and will assist in online marketing efforts (SEO) by having your information appear in search engines when online searches are done for a particular show. But don't stop there. Write and distribute a media alert 1 week before the show begins highlighting a specific activity you will be participating in or something you will be featuring in your booth. Be sure to quickly get across the who, what, where and when. Many reporters, bloggers and others watch for these announcements and may reach out to you for a larger story―or to at least stop by to learn more. The show daily, a small publication or online magazine which includes a wrap-up of what happened at the show on the prior day and previews what will be happening at the show on that day, may also include your information in their publication, resulting in additional attendee traffic to your booth or speaker session. Pre-Show Tips
  16. 16. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 13. Need Money To Exhibit? Do you resell products or services of a larger supplier or manufacturer? Does that company offer co-op marketing funds or MDF (market development funds) to assist you in selling their products/services? If you’re unsure, reach out to them and ask. If they do, talk to them about your interest in participating in a specific show. Depending on the location, attendee demographics, key messages and other criteria, they may encourage you to participate by agreeing to pay for a portion of your booth, the booth space, tchotchkes, signage and other items needed for the show. They may also provide additional products for you to raffle off as prizes during the show or even send their own employees to help you sell in your booth. The more of their products you sell at this show the better for them as well, so it's a win- win situation for both of you. Pre-Show Tips
  17. 17. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 14. Shipping Wars. Each exhibitor is given a window of time in which to set up their booth before the show begins. Depending on the size of your booth, it could be a few hours or a couple of days. Working with a trucking company. If you’re working with a trucking company, it would be to your benefit to tell them that the truck must be at the convention center as soon as the hall opens on the day that you are scheduled to move in (normally 8:00 or 8:30am). As trucks arrive at the convention center they’re all sent to the marshalling yard and called to the convention center’s loading dock one by one. If your shipper doesn’t arrive early so that it is one of the first in line, you run the risk of having your booth wait for hours until the driver is called to the loading dock and the booth is unloaded and additional time before it’s brought to your space in the hall. Even though your booth setup time may be from 8:00am to 7:00pm, you could end up only having a couple of hours to set up your booth due to all of the delays that can occur along the way. Giving your driver an earlier arrival time should ensure that you have more time to work on your booth rather than having to scramble at the end. (continued on next page.) Pre-Show Tips
  18. 18. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 14. Shipping Wars. (continued from previous page.) Carrying Your Booth. Some companies with small 10 x 10 booths that fit into a couple of plastic cases send the cases with employees as luggage to cut down on the high shipping costs. This can be a good option but be sure to review the rules and regulations of the show decorator. Every city and convention center has different rules related to how much and how large the materials can be that you, as an exhibitor, personally bring into the hall. Labor union requirements are different from city to city so it’s important to look into this for every show. If you’re seen arriving with your booth plus large, oversized graphics, the union may require you to turn your materials over to the show decorator and they will charge you to bring it to your booth. Last Minute Shipments. If you have to ship something last minute and send it directly to the hall, understand that you will incur the shipping cost as well as the cost for the show decorator to bring it to your booth from the loading dock. Pre-Show Tips
  19. 19. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 15. What Magazines Will Be At The Show? Trade magazines often partner with or participate in many of the shows you may be interested in attending and distribute their magazine free to all show attendees. This can often add another 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 or more readers to the normal circulation. You’ll find the names of the participating magazines on the show’s website. Once you know who they are, go to their individual sites and review the magazines’ editorial calendar. You’ll learn what topics they will focus on during the month in which the show is taking place. You may be able to submit an article, reach out to a reporter to provide expertise on a certain subject or be interviewed for inclusion in the article. This is an opportunity to get free press coverage and your message will reach additional readers who may never have picked up the magazine before. This is also the case if you choose to advertise in the publication. You'll get more bang for your buck by advertising in the magazines with additional circulation at the show. Pre-Show Tips
  20. 20. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 16. Coordinating Your Vendors. When planning for your booth to be assembled in the hall, think about all of the items that need to be installed and the order in which it must be done. There are often different vendors providing multiple services and coordinating their arrival at your booth for installation is critical to avoid delays, additional expenses or possible damage to the booth structure. For example, if you plan on hanging a large banner from the ceiling over the center of your booth, remember that a forklift will be needed to secure the sign. And, it will need to be installed before any of the booth structure is assembled. Are you considering bringing a car or other type of vehicle into your booth? That opens a whole new set of issues that need to be taken into consideration. You’ll need to work closely with the show decorator on their requirements and safety considerations. Bottom line: Understand all of the components of your booth and the order in which they must be installed. Keep in communication with vendors so booth installation goes smoothly and is completed on time. On-Site Show Tips
  21. 21. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 17. Easy Access To Your Graphics Files. We’ve already talked about an alternative to shipping trade show graphics/posters/banners by sending the electronic file to a printer near the convention center for pick-up there. But what if you did ship all your graphics to the show and something is damaged beyond repair? It’s also a good idea to bring the graphics files with you on a thumb drive or place them in a cloud storage service like Box or Dropbox that can be easily accessed from anywhere on any device. If a poster/banner/sign doesn’t arrive or shows up damaged, you’ll need to have another one printed quickly and immediate access to your electronic file is key. On-Site Show Tips
  22. 22. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 18. I Gave A Great Presentation. Now what? A few of the people that come to hear you speak may stick around afterward to talk with you personally. Most will not. Don’t let those people just walk out the door. Give them an incentive to stop by your booth. Include a special offer at the end of your presentation and tell the attendees that if they stop by your booth and mention that they were at the presentation, they’ll get something for free or a special discount only available to presentation attendees. That’ll give your booth staff another opportunity to engage attendees who have already been warmed up by the speaker presentation. On-Site Show Tips
  23. 23. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 19. Here’s A Free Pass. Depending on the type of show and the size of the booth you select, you may be given one or more “full conference passes” in addition to the passes you will receive for those people manning your booth. This frequently includes free access to all meetings, educational sessions, keynote speeches, exhibit hall and possibly all meals as well. Check to see if the purchase of your booth space includes this. If it does, you’ll save money by not having to buy a full conference pass for one of your employees. On-Site Show Tips
  24. 24. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 20. Check Out The Competition. Be sure to check out your competition. The show is a perfect opportunity to learn more about your competitors and what they’re talking about in their booth. Ask questions and see how they answer them. How does your company differentiate itself from them? What are the key messages they’re presenting to attendees? Are they doing product demos? Do they have special offers or are they giving away prizes? Are they speaking at the show? On what topic? Don’t wear any clothing that includes your company logo when visiting a competitor’s booth. You’ll have more success in gathering information if you look like you’re just another attendee. Turn your exhibitor badge upside down or switch badges with someone you know from another company so they don't see you’re a competitor. On-Site Show Tips
  25. 25. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 21. We’ve Got Beer. If the show has a "booth crawl" type of sponsorship, consider participating. A booth crawl, conducted in the expo hall normally on the first night of the show, includes a number of exhibiting companies who have agreed to pay for the privilege of having hors d’oeuvres, beer/wine and other goodies placed in their booth. Attendees are given a list of those companies and make their way from one booth to the next to eat, drink and have their list stamped by the companies they’ve visited. Once all of the booths are visited, the attendee is often entered into a drawing for a prize given by one of the participating companies. This will guarantee booth traffic and enable you to talk with more people as they come through but you'll need to decide if it is worth the additional cost to your company. On-Site Show Tips
  26. 26. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 22. The Trade Show Vacation. So many companies send employees to shows with no requirements for individual goals or objectives. Although there are opportunities to relax and have fun, ensure that your employees don’t see a company paid trip to a trade show as a vacation. They’re being sent to generate qualified leads, bring on new customers, meet with business partners and vendors, gain industry insights, learn about new technologies, etc. Set clear expectations for each person and follow up after the show on whether those goals and objectives were met. On-Site Show Tips
  27. 27. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 23. Get A Room. The hotel next to the convention center or in very close walking distance is often selected as the "show hotel." This means that the show management has made arrangements with the hotel to set aside a large block of rooms at discounted prices for people coming into town specifically for that show. The show's website will have information about that hotel and should enable you to make a reservation right on their site. There’s usually a deadline to get the reduced rate but, more often than not, the rooms fill up so fast that you’ll see a notice that there aren’t any more rooms available. If that's the case, call the hotel directly. They always set aside rooms for regular customers who will be coming into town for other reasons and there may still be rooms available, just not at the discount rate. The time savings in getting to and from the convention center each day and the savings from not having to take a taxi or rent a car to drive from a hotel 5 miles away, may offset the full room rate at the hotel next door. On-Site Show Tips
  28. 28. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 24. As Seen On TV. Planning on having a product demo or playing video games in your booth to attract people as they walk by? Why not kill two birds with one stone and save money as well. Don't rent a TV or monitor from the show decorator. Consider buying it from an electronics store near the convention center. Use it during the show and then raffle it off at the end. This "prize" will be another reason for people to stop into your booth and you’ll have saved money by not having to rent a TV and buy a separate prize to raffle off. On-Site Show Tips
  29. 29. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 25. Office Supplies. An important component of any successful trade show, yet one that can be so easily overlooked, is the office supply kit. Here is just a small sampling of things that should be included. What else can you think of? • Pens, highlighters, paper clips, a stapler, staples and pads of paper. • Business cards of key employees who are NOT attending the show so you can distribute their cards if needed. • Fabric cleaner to remove spots and an iron to get out wrinkles (The iron can also be borrowed from your hotel if you have one. Just remember to return it.) • Packing tape to pack up boxes to ship home and return shipping labels. • Extra trade show shirts with you company logo. You never know which employee will forget to bring their shirt. • Extra extension cords. • Extra light bulbs if one should blow out on your booth. On-Site Show Tips
  30. 30. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 26. Protect Your Valuables. Don't forget about trade show security. Do you have valuable demo equipment? Computer systems? Does your booth contain lockable storage? Is it big enough to hold everything? Are you ok with leaving valuable items in your booth overnight or would you feel better taking them back to your hotel room? Should you consider hiring a security firm to place a guard in your booth overnight? Although the show itself does provide security which walks through the hall after show hours, you may decide that your equipment or other items require additional levels of security. Just another thing to think about. On-Site Show Tips
  31. 31. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 27. Impossible To Connect. If you choose to order an internet connection from the show organizer because you have a demo that requires it or would like to surf the web from your booth, have a backup plan. With attendees and exhibitors all trying to use the internet, you have to assume that there will be speed and/or connectivity issues. Think about what you’ll do if you can’t get a connection or it’s extremely slow. On-Site Show Tips
  32. 32. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 28. Have I Got A Space For You. A lot goes into selecting the perfect location for your booth―the layout of the hall, entrance location, food and bathroom locations, where your competitor's booths are located, if there are companies you want to be near for strategic business reasons? No matter what area of the hall you select, always try and have as many sides of your booth open to the aisles as possible to enable attendees to easily see and enter your booth from multiple directions. • 10x10 - Even if you’ve selected a 10x10 in-line booth, look for a Corner booth space at the end of an aisle which will allow you to have 2 sides of the booth open to 2 intersecting aisles. • 10x20 – The best option for you will be an End-Cap booth space which will enable you to have 3 sides of your booth open to the aisles. This is positioned at the end of in-line linear booths. • 20x20 or larger – A Peninsula booth (similar to an end-cap but larger in size) or an Island booth where you have all 4 sides open to aisles would be your best bets. Some shows do charge extra for corner or end-cap booths but the increase in foot traffic often makes it worth the extra cost. On-Site Show Tips
  33. 33. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 29. Which Way To The Press Room? Most trade shows will have a room set aside for the press―usually called a press room, media room or press kit room. It's a place for exhibiting companies to put their press kits for reporters to pick up, for journalists and companies to meet for interviews and a place for reporters, bloggers and others to write their stories. This is another opportunity for you to get your company/product announcements and other press information into the hands of people who will write about you. Make your press kit stand out among the rest of the press kits which will all be laid out in the same area. Make sure that the reporter understands at a glance what your company does. Some shows have now created online press rooms where you can post press releases, information on your company and products/services, photos, etc. Whether available at the show or online, take advantage of this free PR distribution opportunity. On-Site Show Tips
  34. 34. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 30. What Does Your Booth Look Like To Attendees? The expo hall usually opens to exhibitor staff one hour before allowing conference attendees into the hall. Use this time to enter the hall when it's quiet and approach your booth with the mindset of an attendee. What do you see? How does the booth look? Does it invite you in? Does your key message(s) stand out and come across quickly and succinctly? Will attendees understand what you do without knowing who you are? Scrutinize your booth through the eyes of an attendee rather than as an employee of your company. On-Site Show Tips
  35. 35. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 31. Time Off For Good Behavior. When developing your booth duty schedule, it’s also important to set aside time for everyone to have the opportunity to walk the show floor. This includes the marketing team as well as the sales, technical and product teams. Check out other companies. How does their booth look? How are they bringing people into their booth? Do they have a contest or show prize? What’s their theme? What are they doing that really makes themselves stand out? Collect any giveaways, collateral or other materials that you think are well done. Bring them back to your office as examples of things you might consider doing in the future. On-Site Show Tips
  36. 36. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 32. I’m So Hungry. Handing out food or drinks is always a good way to get people into your booth. But, be careful. Review the show’s exhibitor guide on their rules for distributing food or beverages (even small bags of nuts and bottles of water) from your booth. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to distribute food with no problem. However, you may incur a fee which you’ll need to pay to the convention center or show decorator based on the amount of food you’ll be distributing. Any exhibitor handing out food is considered a competitor to the hall’s food concession, taking away potential revenue from them by giving out free refreshments to attendees. Giving away free food will certainly get people into your booth. Just understand that you may have to pay extra to do that. On-Site Show Tips
  37. 37. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 33. Reserve Next Year’s Show Now? While you’re at your show, the show management may schedule a meeting for you to come to the sales office and select your booth space for next year's show. This enables the show to lock in commitments a year in advance, allows you to get an early pick at a good booth space for next year and gives you a discount for reserving your space early. As an exhibitor, you want the time to be able to get back to your office, speak with your team, follow up with the prospects you met, close some deals and better understand the true ROI of this event to determine whether it will be worthwhile for your company to exhibit again next year. The show, on the other hand, wants you to sign up now and get your money so you're locked in. Cancellation policies vary from show to show. Some give you a 30 day cancellation clause which enables you to cancel up to 30 days after the current show is over without any financial penalty. Other shows require an up front percentage of payment and if you cancel you will receive X% back (never the full amount). If you’re certain you want to exhibit the following year then sign up during your sales appointment at the current show. You’ll get a discount and your ability to pick a better booth location for next year is greater because booth spaces for next year become available first to current exhibitors. If you’re uncertain about next year's participation but are able to cancel without financial penalty up to 30 days after the current show, then sign up and make sure that you evaluate the return on your show investment within that time. On-Site Show Tips
  38. 38. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 34. A Customer Video. This can’t be said enough…Don't forget about your current customers who may be coming to the show. Think about how you can take advantage of them being there. Customer testimonial videos are becoming a larger and more valuable piece of a company's marketing strategy. While your customer is visiting your booth, take a quick video of them talking about why they think your company and product or service are so great. It doesn't have to be an expensive, high quality production. It just needs to be genuine. Honest and natural comments from current customers go a long way in convincing prospects of your value. And, it's easier to corral a customer into creating a video when they're in your booth then when they're back at their office. On-Site Show Tips
  39. 39. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 35. Can I Offer You A Chair? This should seem obvious but I don't know how many shows I’ve attended where a company's exhibit staff is sitting in their booth. Do you know how that looks to the potential customer walking by? That you are disinterested in what's going on. That you're tired. That you can't be bothered with me. That your comfort is more important than what you’re there for. Get the point? Sitting in your booth, unless it’s a separate area specifically set aside for sit- down meetings, is a no-no. It sends the wrong impression to the people you’re trying to attract. On-Site Show Tips
  40. 40. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 36. Should We Rent A Car? Before you go online to rent a car, check into the transportation options that will be available at the show and take some of these things into consideration: • How close is the convention center or hall to your hotel? • Where are the restaurants and additional conference facilities located in relation to each other? Are they within walking distance? • Is public transportation available and how late into the evening does it run? • Can you quickly and easily get a taxi when you need one? • Does your hotel have a free shuttle to the convention center and any other locations? Depending on the size of the show, the show management itself may also be providing free shuttle service between all of the venues, popular sites and restaurants around the city. One Important Caveat: Although a free shuttle, public transportation, a taxi or other means of getting around may be a less expensive option than renting a car, think about how much stuff you’ll be carrying to the convention center yourself. Remember those booth graphics that you’re having created at the local printer? How big are they and how are you getting them to the hall? The amount of stuff that you personally have to bring to the hall may ultimately be the deciding factor in which mode of transportation you choose. On-Site Show Tips
  41. 41. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 37. Drayage. An Unexpected Expense. When calculating expenses, be prepared for a number of additional costs that you may not have expected if you’re new to trade show management. Drayage is one of those things that’s often overlooked and can be a bit of a shock when you get your final bill. Trade show drayage primarily refers to the handling of your booth materials before, during and after the show. This cost is in addition to the shipping cost that you will incur to ship your booth and materials to and from the show. It will include (but may not be limited to): • The processing of paperwork to allow your booth to enter and leave the convention center or hall. • The physical movement of your company's materials from the loading dock to your booth space before the show begins and from your booth back to the loading dock for pickup after the show is over. • The delivery of any packages to your booth while the show is taking place. • The storage of your crates, boxes and any other containers while the show is taking place. On-Site Show Tips
  42. 42. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 38. You’re Not Working In Our Booth? Your sales people are most likely attending the show to work in your booth, qualify leads and bring in new customers. Senior executives, vendor relations managers, product managers and others may be attending to conduct meetings with customers, vendors or other exhibiting companies and may not have time to work in the booth. Don't assume that everyone from your company will be available to you. Assigning booth duty to people who will be unable to work the booth may cause you to have too little representation and not allow your team to take lunch breaks or walk around the hall to network or pick up competitive intelligence. Understanding everyone’s goals before the show will eliminate confusion and aggravation during the show. On-Site Show Tips
  43. 43. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 39. How Many Leads Did You Get? How are you going to collect leads? Will you rent a device from the show decorator to scan attendee badges? You have many options. Here are just a few: • Rent one from the show. • Purchase the device from an office supply store so it can be used for multiple shows. • Build your own online lead form which can be accessed over the internet from any tablet or laptop. • Create a traditional paper lead form. Of course, if you create your own online form or paper form you’ll have the ability to customize the information you gather to pre-qualify the attendees for your sales team. Providing hotter, high quality leads is always a good thing but be careful that you don’t ask so many questions or require so much information that the attendees are turned off and walk away. If you’ve decided to rent or purchase a device, read the directions. They will come with a pre-installed list of questions but you should have the ability to modify them somewhat to tailor them to your company. On-Site Show Tips
  44. 44. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 40. Thank You. Here’s another one of those things that seems so simple but is so often overlooked: Send a follow up email to all of the people who came to your booth. It should thank them for stopping by and let them know how great it was to meet them. You may want to include a photo of your booth so it reminds them of your company and the conversation they might have had with your team. Did you have a contest or give away prizes? Include photos of the winners and messages of congratulations. This email should really be sent out within 3 days of the show ending and the list should be given to your sales team with instruction to call every person. The fact that the person was at your booth and was sent a follow-up email, gives your sales team an easier "foot in the door" when introducing themselves over the phone. Post Show Tips
  45. 45. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 41. Write A Blog Post. You’re probably always looking for new topics for your company blog. Why not write a blog post about your experiences at the show? But, don't talk about your product or service. Talk about how it was great to see so many friends and customers at the show and meet so many new people. Talk about the show’s host city. Did you do any team building activities before the show or maybe offer your time to a local charity in that city? If so, talk about how great it was to be able to give back. Focusing on the people behind the company and not your product will go a long way in building relationships between your prospects, customers and employees. Post Show Tips
  46. 46. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 42. Missing Pieces. It’s the same at every show…it takes a certain amount of time to set up a booth and half that time to take it down. Why? Because everyone’s in a race to get out of the hall to catch a plane or go sightseeing before they head home. The booth is shoved back into whatever boxes or crates are most handy. Because of that, pieces are lost, damaged, misplaced and just plain forgotten. Once the show is over, it’s easy to stick all the boxes in a closet or spare room and forget about them until a few weeks before the next show. Resist this urge. If the boxes have come back to your office, find some out of the way place where you can reassemble the booth and check it out thoroughly. Is it damaged? Are pieces missing? Should graphics be replaced? Could you use it again in its present condition at the next show? If you had a larger custom booth built by an exhibit house, most likely the booth will go back to them and reassembly after a show should be one of the things they do as part of their contract. They will send you a complete inventory of what needs to be replaced and the cost to get the booth back into shape for the next show. Whether the booth returns to your office or the exhibit house, it’s important that this step be done when things are more calm after the show is over or you’ll be scrambling to get it done right before the next show begins. Post Show Tips
  47. 47. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 43. What’s Our ROI? There are different reasons why companies go to trade shows. • To establish a presence in a new industry. • To solidify a leadership position among a number of competitors. • To generate more leads. • To signup more customers. • …and many more. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you sit back and objectively evaluate whether the show was a financial success. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters. Remember, when calculating the return, to include T&E expenses, drayage and additional costs that you won’t know until after the show is over to ensure that you have an accurate and complete view of the success of your show. This will help you determine if you should exhibit again next year. Post Show Tips
  48. 48. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 44. Where Did Those Business Cards Go? So many business cards and lead forms get stuffed into filing cabinets and never looked at again after the show is over. If this was the first time that someone learned about your company, they’re most likely not going to purchase immediately until they learn more about you and have a specific need. Make sure you continue to reach out to them over the weeks and months following the show. For those leads that are deemed to be “colder,” add them to a marketing nurture campaign of emails, webinar invitations, videos, white paper or eBook downloads. It’s important to be top of mind when someone’s ready to purchase and they may not be ready until months after the show. Post Show Tips
  49. 49. 44½ Great Tips for Trade Show Success 44½. Lace Up Those Shoes. I call this tip 44½ because it only applies to us women. Yes ladies, I’m talking to you. As much as you might want to, don't wear 4 1/2 inch spike heals―even if your booth is incredibly well padded. You’ll be standing on concrete for hours on end (remember, there should be no sitting in your booth). It also doesn’t look very professional to take your shoes off and walk around your booth barefoot. Flats or low heals are the way to go. Booth setup, before the show begins, is also not the time or place to wear heals. Large crates and trash litter the aisles so you may have difficulty climbing over and maneuvering around obstacles. Lace up those sneakers and you’ll be good to go. Post Show Tips
  50. 50. Written by Lisa Masiello. Lisa Masiello Contact Lisa at Connect with her on LinkedIn at /LisaMasiello Follow her on Twitter at @LisaMasiello Follow her on Slideshare at /LisaMMasiello TECHmarc Labs Visit us at Join us on LinkedIn at /techmarc-labs Like us on Facebook at /TECHmarcLabs © Copyright 2014 by Lisa M. Masiello The mention of specific companies in this document in no way represents an endorsement of their products or services. These companies are included only as examples of companies who provide the products/services discussed.