1. Determine how trade shows can strengthen your present marketing strategy
Do you want to:
- Increase existing products/services in existing markets?
- Introduce new products/services into existing markets?
- Introduce existing products/services into new markets?
- Introduce new products/services into new markets?
2. Set measurable and realistic goals
Know what you expect from a show. Set realistic and measurable goals. Write them down and share them with your exhibiting team. Decide exactly what information you want and then set up the systems to measure your results.
3. Establish a realistic budget
There are many different expenses involved in exhibiting. When putting your budget together, consider the following: The exhibition space; the display (estimate 60% for structure and accessories and 40% for graphics); show services including shipping, setup and dismantling and utilities; transportation; pre-show, at-show and post-show advertising; promotions and special events; personnel expenses including travel, accommodation, daily expenses and time value.
4. Select a display that meets your needs
Do your homework and select a display that meets the goals set for each show, portrays the right image for your company, is durable, flexible and versatile and fits your budget. Explore the ease, ability and cost-effectiveness of expanding your display over time.
5. Develop an overall message or theme
While developing your promotional plan, advertising, special events and media relations, you’ll need to keep a consistent theme throughout each piece. This will help reinforce your message to prospects as well as enable them to better recall who you are.
6. Use graphics to enhance your message
Graphics are used to create interest, focus attention and tell visitors about your product or service. In just three to five seconds, graphics need to communicate who you are, what you do and how customers can benefit. Graphics are often the first impression an attendee has of an exhibitor, so it’s important to make the "right" statement. Consider size—bigger in this instance is often times better!
7. Select the "right" staff
One of the most crucial aspects of any event is its people. The personnel you choose to represent you are your ambassadors. These people have the responsibility of making or breaking future relationships with attendees, prospects and customers. Invest time in training them so they know what to do and how to best represent your products, services, and company.
8. Plan early for transportation needs
Save money by planning for transportation needs well in advance of the show schedule. Choose a carrier that specializes in trade show transportation and will give you the service you need. Always communicate both in writing and verbally with your carrier.
9. Develop a follow-up system for new leads
One of the biggest frustrations after the exhibition is managing the leads. If leads are not distributed and managed in an organised and effective way, your overall results could be impaired. Determine how each lead will be followed up and who will implement it. If you plan to send literature or a thank you letter to attendees, have it pre-packed and ready to ship. Write and set-up email or mail merge templates to expedite personalizing correspondence. Whatever system you use, ensure follow-up is prompt, within three to five days after the show. The quickest follow-up occurs when you input lead information into a computerized system and transmit it immediately for fulfillment. If you don’t follow up, your competition will! There are several good lead management software applications on the market. Find one that fits your needs or consider designing your own— the simpler the better. Decide what kind of questions you will receive and how to respond to them. Consider different follow-up methods for the various types of visitors, e.g. prospects with an immediate need, prospects interested in buying within the next six months, prospects who are only partially interested. Try varying the follow up; phone calls, emails or letters. By just extending the follow up period you will be amazed by the results and remember to measure your success.
10. Re-evaluate regularly
You should continually re-evaluate the reasons why you re-select a show. Make sure they continue to attract your target audience and get results.