July 3, 2013 4 min to read

Five Simple Steps to Successful Tradeshow Management

Category : 4CDesignWorks

Contributed by 4CTechnologies Director of Strategic Planning, Kathy Olek

Have you ever wanted to showcase your product or service at a tradeshow, but weren’t sure exactly where to start or if it would even be worth the time or money? Participating in a tradeshow may seem like a great idea, but can result in a negative experience for your company, if not properly planned. There are a few important steps to take to ensure your tradeshow is a BIG success:

#1 Do Your Homework

You are participating in this tradeshow for marketing purposes; you want to get your product or service out there to your target market.  But how is the tradeshow going to bring the public to you? Find out how they intend to market their show, and what kind of traffic they are expecting.  What’s their track record?  Who attends? If their marketing efforts don’t make sense, it probably doesn’t make sense to pay for a booth.

It’s also a great idea to look at the exhibit floor plan, in some cases up to a year before the show, to pick a location that will deliver the most foot traffic to your door.  Securing good booth visibility is an important factor in a successful tradeshow effort. Ensure that the location is in your contract before you sign and pay– or you could get stuck in the darkest corner, farthest from the entrance and away from all the activity.

#2 Plan to Plan

After you’ve researched the show and secured a great booth, you are ready to take the tradeshow plunge…and really make your investment work for you. This requires some additional advance planning.  Here are just a few ideas on how you can capitalize on your investment and really make a mark for your company:

  • Inquire with the management of the show about additional signage, speaking or sponsorships opportunities while at the show.
  • Ask about access to show attendees and their emails, either electronically at the show or via a list in the days leading up to the show and use these to your advantage in publicizing your brand.
  • Think about promoting yourself prior to the show through direct mail, email, social media, and your website to let your target market know which tradeshow you will be participating in, where it is located and when you will be there.
  • Offer a giveaway or a creative experience at your booth.  This will help visitors to remember your brand and hopefully come back to you in the future!
  • Think about using video or audio in your booth.  Anything that is different, like music, will attract attention.

#3 Assemble a Pre-Show Package of Information

In the days prior to the show, make sure everyone knows their assignment and the schedule for the show. Develop a list of expectations and goals for the show that could include potential clients you wish to meet. List cell phone numbers of your peers for easy contact on site and make sure to double check all show hotel and flight arrangements to ensure smooth registration.  Make sure you allow enough time to set up your booth and all materials before the start of the show and that proper arrangements have been made for booth and materials delivery.

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#4  Booth Etiquette

DO                  Greet visitors with a smile. Call them by name if you can.
DO                  Practice your elevator pitch and test the effectiveness of different versions
DO                  Walk the show and hand out fliers to draw attention to your booth.
DO                  Wear comfortable shoes and a shirt with your company logo
DO                  Take photos of your booth and the surrounding area
DO                  Check out the competition

DON’T            Text or answer emails in the booth
DON’T            Leave the booth for extended periods of time without checking with your team.
DON’T            Be obvious about checking out the competition.
DON’T            Eat or drink in front of your visitors
DON’T            Leave your booth in disarray; clean up after yourself as the day progresses. 

#5 Evaluation                                                                                      

After the show has come to close and you’ve packed up your things, it’s time to evaluate your success. This isn’t just counting your giveaways to see how many people took one home; it’s looking at the cost per exposure and cost per lead generated. This is the most important step in the process.  An analysis must be performed detailing all costs related to the show against leads generated to ensure that you are getting a return on your investment. Once this is complete, don’t forget to document it! Put the information into a file and save it. In the future, the information will be useful in aiding your decision to participate in the tradeshow again in the following years.

All in all, a tradeshow can really be a great investment for your company. Remember though, it is imperative to follow these steps to ensure true success and a high return on investment.  At 4CDesignWorks we can work with you to put together a tradeshow strategy that brings real results to your business!  Contact us to work out a custom plan developed specifically for your unique needs.  Thanks for reading, and good luck!!!

– KO

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