From the internet to video conferencing, there are more ways than ever to connect with your clients and prospects. But the trade show still reigns supreme as a face-to-face opportunity to learn best practices, promote your company and network, network, network.
With travel and marketing budgets tight, no company wants to squander the opportunities that trade shows offer. To truly benefit from a trade show, preparation can make all the difference for success.
Following are 5 top tips on preparing for a trade show … and next week we will explore how to build on that success once you are there.
1) Target the show. This might seem elementary, but there are literally thousands of trade shows and endless opportunities to reach primary and secondary customers.
Some trade shows reach consumers and some are B2B. Some are national in scope, some are regional. Examine your goals and objectives to determine which show will give you the best opportunities. You might decide to focus and make a huge splash at the main industry show; or, you might decide you’d rather visit more shows with a smaller presence.
Are you trying to reach a new market? Consider a show that attracts those customers as a way to begin a conversation. For example, if you are a professional organizer, of course you will attend National Association of Professional Organizers. But maybe your time would also be well spent at a trade show for real estate agents, moving companies or interior designers. Think beyond the obvious to a show that might allow you to stand out.
2) Sign up as early as you can to get in on the before-show action. Most shows have online discussion groups that you can join to find out more about the attendees and make virtual connections that you can solidify when you arrive. Find out the Twitter hashtag and use it in your tweets to further get involved in the show community.
3) Get to know the show organizers, who can provide you with a variety of marketing opportunities:
- They can often send you the journalist/blogger list so that you know who will be there and can start forging connections.
- Find out what the show app will offer and if there’s any way your company could add value.
- See if you can provide content for the show daily or online newsletter. Since show organizers have to generate so much content in such a short period of time, they often are appreciative of useful, fresh content that attendees submit ahead of time.
- Determine how they choose their speakers, panel participants and topics and see if you can be included. Since program participants are often chosen quite far in advance, begin the process now to get on the schedule for the following year.
- Let the organizers know they can depend on you for needed content and ask them what would be helpful.
- Finally, be sure to thank them. Organizing a trade show is a stressful endeavor. They are working long days and nights and deserve appreciation.
4) Utilize social media. Maximize all the channels available to you even before the show. Promote your presence on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc. accounts and offer a sneak peak at what you will be featuring. Upload a video to YouTube and share content across networks.
5) Reach out to journalists and bloggers. In addition to your social media outreach, conduct a focused campaign to generate interest from journalists before the show. If you are able to obtain the list of registered journalists and bloggers from the show organizers, reach out to them to alert them to your presence, make a pre-show announcement and schedule interviews to take place during the show. Most journalists have a busy schedule once they arrive with competing priorities; setting appointments in advance greatly increases the chance you will have the writer’s attention once there.
As with any networking opportunity, your success at a trade show depends on what you put into it. One way to ensure success is to start early and maximize your presence . Thoroughly preparing for a trade show is the smart and responsible thing to do.
~ ~ ~
Series on How to Make the Most Out of Trade Shows
- Part 1: Trade Show Tricks: What to Know Before You Go (Preparing for a Trade Show)
- Part 2: Trade Show Tricks: Conquer the Show While You Are There (Some Trade Show Best Practices)
- Part 3: Trade Show Tricks: The Party is Not Over! More Work to Do After the Trade Show Ends
by Cathie Ericson