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There is no Business like Trade Show Business

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by Leona Heslehurst, on 1st April, 2016

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vForum , Cisco Live, Edutech, Cebit, Connect…the list goes on and our inbox’s are bursting with sponsorship offers. Love them or hate them, trade shows are here to stay. Are you exhibiting this year? Check out our Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind as you flick through the prospectus.

Has anyone else in tech noticed the abundance of industry trade shows at the moment? This might be the case every year but our emails have made their way onto more than a few event promoter databases and not a day goes by when we aren’t invited to sponsor. It seems that it’s the season for a good old-fashioned trade show.

To be honest, at RAW we do know our way around an exhibition hall and thought we’d share some tips on what we would recommend for a successful event.
The first question should be Why exhibit?

RAW is extremely passionate about lead generation and love them or hate them, trade shows can play a role to attract, engage and convert prospects if done correctly.

One of the most important realisations is that you don’t necessarily need to be at every trade show to position your brand ahead of the rest. For companies, small or large, exhibiting at a trade show can potentially represent one of the most valuable marketing opportunities they have all year. On the flip side, it is also one of the most expensive, resource-intensive initiatives in any marketer’s budget.

With your trade show competitors just around the corner or even right next door to your booth, strategising which trade shows will get the biggest bang your marketing buck is critical in order to drive traffic to your booth and capture top-quality leads with strong return-on-investment.

Do’s and Don’ts
Think of your trade show planning as a business marketing strategy. With this in mind, here a few useful Do’s and Don’ts in order to get the most out of your trade show success:

Do
1. Know that your ‘booth fee’ is just one cost involved. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you should allow at least double the cost of your sponsorship for the activity as a whole. The cost of graphics, AV, merchandise, collateral, design, copywriting, shirts, prizes and so on do add up. It’s best to start with a realistic budget or reconsider participating.

2. It’s not all about you. Correct messaging is so vital. To form a quick connection with your audience, you need to present your content leading with what you can do for your buyer. Features vs Benefits. Will it save them money, will it make their job easier, will their business perform better? Be specific, the more detail you can give on these points the better. It shows intelligence and a great understanding of your market if you can achieve clear consistency in your pre-marketing, signage and elevator pitch introduction. It really is a missed opportunity if you exhibit with generic messaging.

3. Show your personality. Be interactive and fun. We’ve seen some great examples recently where brands have incorporated something different into their presence. Giveaways, for example, move away from the frustration caused by those grabby merchandise hands (‘Can I take 7 for my grandchildren?’). Instead of giving away 5,000 pens think about offering one really awesome prize and make that prize of appeal at a personal level. A wine fridge stocked with Verve, an Omega watch, gyroboard or a holiday. These types of ideas can then influence the look of the booth and add some fun to compliment your other content. We think it also looks great to have your team wearing a customised event shirt in a colour or style that will stand out from the business wear in the room.

4. More about content, but justified because it’s so important, leverage the people on your team. The business case, opportunity, common objections and messaging that works are factors faced by your team every single day. Look within your team of experts because that is where the answers will be found. Bring your sales and technical teams into the initial planning and pick their brains. You never know, they could deliver the key point of difference between you and your competitor or the statement that makes the delegates sit up and take notice.

5. Plan your follow-up tactics and perform them immediately. This is where sales and marketing must work together and reach out to new contacts and update your database. No. Excuses. Allowed. The success of the entire campaign rests on your shoulders. Just sayin’.

Don’t
1. Don’t just sign up for the trade show out of habit – Make the organiser of the event sell to you on why you would exhibit again this year. Review your ROI from past events.

2. Don’t forget basic etiquette. Do not Touch your phone while on the booth! Do not have your back to the room or spend the day talking to your colleagues instead of the crowd. Now is not the time to be shy.

3. Expect the unexpected. Don’t ditch old trade show lead lists, you never know who might be back to visit from last year’s event.

4. Don’t underestimate lead time. It’s advisable to give yourself, at least, four months for a smaller show and six for the larger shows.

5. Don’t forget, tradeshows are about putting your brand products and services into tangible form. Keep all messages and collateral consistent, professional and on track with your show objectives.

If you’re evaluating repeating a trade show sponsorship or trying a new idea, we’d love to talk to you about it.

Contact us here to get in touch with us on how we can assist with your trade show planning to get the best bang for your buck. Or check out our Folio of Work for ideas for your next trade show booth design, merchandise collateral and any other assets to best showcase your brand and message at the show.

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Trade Show
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