Face-to-face events enable your company to grow sales by retaining current, and attracting new customers. Your company invests significant staff time and money to participate in trade shows and events each year. So we created a list of the top five most common pitfalls to avoid so your company plans to get the most out of their trade show investment.
1. Time: There’s never enough is there? Marketers wear multiple hats today and trade show preparation deadlines can sneak up on you. So plan now to take control by building a calendar or project timeline for your show. Consult your exhibit partner for turnaround times for design and production. Overlay the form deadlines contained within the show manual. Include a factor in your plan for internal meetings, decision making and management approvals. Circulate the calendar or project plan to team members to make sure everyone is aware of what needs to be done, and by when. Establish a schedule of regular meetings with the team to review progress and make adjustments to the plan. Build your plan to deliver to the advanced warehouse to save money and time. In the event you encounter any delays along the pipeline you have a fall back position and can re-schedule delivery direct to the show site.
2. Budget: Track the breakdown of expenses for your events to refer to when you forecast your show budget. Then collect accurate estimates for new graphics and display properties as well as line items that may change based on show location such as freight, labor and hotels. Since companies cannot reduce fixed show expenses, they look to variable expenses to reduce costs. Beware of buying the cheapest graphics or trade show display you can find. Why invest all the money to participate in a show – space, show services, staff travel - only cut corners on the trade show exhibit that will represent your brand? You want the best presentation possible to generate new sales opportunities. Short term solutions may be “penny wise” but can end up “pound foolish” when you have to purchase replacements. Instead, invest in a trade show display guaranteed to last; one that will accept future accessory upgrades and adapts to different sizes so it may be used at multiple events. Or consider a trade show display rental.
3. Promotion: Many companies make the mistake of thinking they can just show up. While it is the show organizer’s job to bring attendees to the show, it is your job to bring the attendees to your booth. Studies show that attendees maximize their time on the show floor by preparing a target list of exhibitors to meet in advance. Pre-show promotion is essential —without it, your potential customers may not know to look for you. Aggressively market your presence at the show to increase traffic to your booth which will also increase your leads for new sales.
4. Staff: Your booth staff creates the first impression with visitors so choose the employees that will best represent your company. You need people who want to be there and will follow direction. Trade shows require staff to be comfortable approaching attendees in aisles, not just waiting for them to enter your booth. Trade show selling requires listening, responding to and recording information in a conversation that lasts just a few minutes. You need people that can explain how your products solve potential client’s problems better than the competition. Prepare your booth staff by providing proper training and clear communication about show goals and performance expectations to prevent disappointment on the show floor.
5. Follow Up: C suite execs no longer tolerate interdepartmental finger pointing; they want to know the result of their investment in trade shows and events. You can’t afford to fumble at the end zone mishandling your trade show leads after the show. By the time you figure out what to do, the leads have long since grown cold. So before you go to the show, sales and marketing need to agree on who will collect, count, record, fulfill, distribute, contact, and report on show leads. Remember, you can never follow up too quickly with the people who showed interest in your product!
For more tips on exhibit marketing management, download our Guide to Successful Exhibiting.
Gwen Parsons is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Nomadic Display. She is a regular contributor to the Nomadic Display Blog and can be found at Google + and LinkedIn.