Trade shows can be the largest single expense for B2B marketers. While most companies know they’re worth the cost, they still struggle with justifying the budget. By tweaking how you do things, you can start to see more ROI from those expos and make the bigwigs take notice.
1. Been There; Done That
Do you go to the same 5 restaurants year after year? Probably not. They change in quality, new restaurants open, and your tastes change. So why automatically go to the same trade shows every year? Your target markets and the ways you reach them have changed. Some shows have stagnated, and others have grown. Research which expos attract your best customers and prospects, and adjust your show schedule accordingly.
2. Set Show-Specific Goals
Quantify your goals (i.e., generate 100 leads… increase brand awareness by 5%… meet with 25 key clients…). Figure your ROI by dividing your expected revenue (estimated lead count multiplied by close rate multiplied by dollars in average sale) by your exhibiting costs. Now you know what your lead count goals have to be, by show. Match each show’s marketing goals to your company’s position in the market.
3. Impactful Exhibit Design
The show floor is a cacophony of hundreds, if not thousands of trade show displays. Attendees are overwhelmed trying to navigate through all that visual stimuli, but you can get their attention with a clear message. Make your displays into billboards, not brochures. The idea is to get their attention so you can talk with them, not give the company history.
4. The Right Stuff
Many companies are misguided in picking booth staffers simply because they are in sales, because they are chatty, or just because they know the product. Sometimes booth staffers are chosen arbitrarily, or because they are new employees who need training. Instead, select booth staffers who are eager to participate – and then train them how to do the job. Happy booth staffers will be positive brand ambassadors that create stronger relationships between your company and your customers.
5. Spend More Time Training Your Booth Staffers
More than any other factor, your people affect how attendees remember you after the show. Train them how to adapt their selling methods to the environment and pace of the trade show floor. Train them in what your customers care about. Train them on all the promotional activity you are doing pre-, at-, and post-show. They will be more confident and perform better. Most of all, train them how to qualify leads. You don’t want the most leads; you need the best leads.
6. Draw Your Target Market
Exhibitors compete with hundreds of other exhibitors for that most precious commodity: face time. You need to give your prospects a compelling reason to stop at your booth. While your booth design will get them to look, something must get them to stop and talk. Trained booth staffers can do that. Also, an interesting promotion or giveaway wouldn’t hurt! Don’t go for mass appeal; stick to something that is meaningful to your target market. It helps separate prospects from the rest.
7. Require Lead Follow Up
Get your booth staffers into the mindset that the show isn’t over just because all the booths are dismantled. This is simply the start of the final phase in the trade show: following up on the leads. Customize the follow-up to the prospect’s needs. Phone calls and emails are relatively quick and simple ways to keep the dialogue going. Maybe the follow-up involves hand-delivering a prize or promotional giveaway, which means more face time with the prospect. Whatever the method, see it through to the end… and track it, so you can report the ROI to management.
Most, of these action items can be done for little or no cost. The investment in time and training is more important than a financial investment in this case. Just apply proven strategies to sharpen your trade show program, and see the results in greater qualified leads, bigger brand impact, and deeper relationships with prospects and clients.
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