The death of the Trade Show was greatly exaggerated! In a world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, social networks, Google + Hangouts, Skype etc – we still have a need for that face to face presentation of our ideas and products that only happens at Trade Shows. So how do you maximize your investment? Well love them or hate them here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Appoint a project manager to make the booth happen. Built and delivered on site, on time and with all the relevant accessories.
  2. Imagine exactly what you need at the booth. Monitors, keyboards, laptops, product demos, product installations, signage, posters, collateral, business cards, lighting, internet connection, giveaways, prizes,card reader.
  3. Examine well in advance the need for White Papers, presentation opportunities, breakout session opportunities, sponsorship packages.
  4. Specifically with respect to messaging, it always amazes me how all the booths at a trade show all start sounding the same as you walk down the rows of exhibitors. Keep your message really simple. Emphasize what your products do for customers, how they use them, how they get value from them.
  5. Trade shows are a great opportunity to refresh really tailored pdfs, brochures, laminated business results sheets describing what you can achieve for customers. Perhaps offer clean one page Case Studies as hand outs that attendees would find relevant and interesting. A cool trick is to load some relevant collateral on a branded flash memory card as a giveaway.
  6. Don’t forget to produce some hard copies of your best blog posts, subtly branded.
  7. Sales teams should treat a Trade Show as a mini business development project. Approximately 2 to 4 weeks prior to the show, touch base with key contacts that might be going to the show. Book appointments that work for them. Breakfast or afternoon coffee between sessions. Perhaps dinner involving key people.
  8. Consider booking a separate room in the hotel as a meeting room and transform it into a mini meet and greet area with relevant collateral, presentations ready to go.
  9. Sales conversations at the booth can often be quite frenetic affairs. There never seems enough time before they are grabbing your bounty of freebies and off they go. Try a different tack. When people come to the booth rather than telling them (throwing up) everything they need to know about your product, just because they asked, stop yourself and reverse the conversation. Ask them their function within their organisation and diagnose the issue that is driving their appearance at the show! Often attendees go to a show to hunt down solutions to a problem. Remember prospects often have a weak knowledge of all the brands and possible solutions in a sector. Don’t assume knowledge they don’t have.
    Find out their specific personal business issue, and remember you really might NOT be able to help them and the quicker you know that the better.
  10. Rehearse at least 48 hours before the show the scripts, the demos, the roles of everyone involved. This should include how you will handle requests to meet your CEO/senior management.
  11.  Don’t forget to book time with key journalists, analysts, influencers to feed your message, new products into the system and also to garner market intelligence.
  12. Find time to visit competitor booths and collect collateral and intelligence on how they are doing. Health warning: they will lie about how well they are doing!
  13. Of course don’t forget the reason you are there is to collect gold dust or sales leads as we call them. Deploy card readers, trap details and always follow up within 5 days of the show.