Trade shows are a great way for business owners to get face-to-face interaction with targeted prospects and to establish both brand recognition and thought leadership.
But if you’re putting all your energy into designing an attractive booth and passing out interesting marketing material, you probably won’t get the biggest bang for your trade show buck.
Trade show veterans who know how to get maximum ROI from the experience will tell you that success relies just as much on the planning as on the execution. Most importantly, you need to think about the technology you can use to interact with those who visit your booth.
If you’ve got a trade show coming up, don’t forget these crucial preparations:
Do Your Research
Finding the right trade show for your business can take weeks or even months. The effort usually requires significant time and money, and a bad decision that brings few solid sales leads will waste both (and test the boss’ patience). Doing your homework before committing to a trade show is the easiest way to avoid future frustrations
Consider these aspects before signing up:
- Who’s sponsoring the event?
- How many vendors will attend?
- What industries will be represented?
- How many people are expected to attend?
- What types of people are expected to attend? Is it lower-level folks who use your product or C-level people who have budget authority?
- Will your competition be there?
Once you’ve decided on the trade show you want to attend, it’s important to make sure there aren’t any conflicting industry events taking place at the same time that could decrease attendance.
Another important consideration is what outcome you want from the show and, more importantly, how do you want your audience to react? Do you want customers to purchase your products on the spot? Do you want them to schedule a meeting with you? (More on that below.)
Instead of passing out traditional business cards or branded pens, think of something that your audience will find useful. Coffee mugs with funny sayings or tote bags to carry their freebies in as they walk around the show are both great ideas. Just remember to keep your collateral related to your business in some way.
Invest in Technology
Perhaps the most important preparation you can make for trade shows is to use the right technology to both engage prospects and communicate among your employees in attendance.
When your booth is (hopefully) swarming with prospects, the worst outcome is for you to miss a chance to engage with any one of them. How frustrating would it be for prospects to show up just when the person they need to speak with goes on break? Several technologies can help ensure you don’t miss an opportunity.
First, you should think about investing in, or renting, onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_link’, ‘http://pager.net/industry-solutions/tradeshows-events/’]); return false;”>two-way radios or alphanumeric pagers. Both are great ways to be certain that your employees can communicate with each other and remain reachable at all times.
And, if a key representative has stepped out to grab lunch, you can offer to alert the prospect when the employee returns by using a cell phone paging transmitter
. This simply requires that the prospect gives you his or her phone number.
Another idea for optimizing your time at trade shows is to employ an that allows you to schedule prospect appointments. Those prospects could receive detailed messages via cell phone, email or through a compact notification device you hand them. Until then, they are free to roam the trade show while awaiting a message from you. Such an approach has a side benefit: helping to compile your prospect contact list.
No matter the technology you choose, the idea is the same: to engage as many people as you can. Next time you attend a trade show, don’t risk losing a prospect because you weren’t properly prepared.
Find Out More About Cell Phone Paging
Complete the form below to download the free eBook, The Evolution of Cell Phone and Paging Systems, for more detail how cell phone technology is changing the way businesses communicate.
Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.