“Our product is memories—not booths.” Bruce Mau, Founder, Massive Change Network
As a former trade show coordinator, I can remember a time when a booth’s appearance was a measure, if not the measure, of trade show success. Having the best looking or largest exhibit was something to feel confident about as you walked in the expo hall each day. I can also recall the time when the focus began to shift.
Trade show presence became less about how your booth looked and more about what you were doing inside its square footage. Marketers had to get innovative. This not only applied to their event marketing efforts, but how they were measuring success. More money was spent as a result of the latter, since the quantity or quality of handshakes no longer mattered. Executives needed concrete measurement (and still do).
It’s unlikely your trade show practices today still live in the era of relying solely on booth panels to drive traffic. Even yet, it may be time to step up your game. 45% of event professionals surveyed felt optimistic about their 2016 trade show plans as a direct result of a “new/improved trade show exhibit”. But, as Bruce Mau said, “It’s not about the booth; it’s about inviting attendees into an immersive, multi-sensory experience that they will remember forever.”
Does the trade show experience your company offers measure up?
Why You Should Evaluate Your Trade Show Presence
Fall is coming, and your company is likely hitting the road for the majority of its trade show stops this year. In preparation, consider these statistics.
- 46% of attendees attend just one event per year. This oftentimes makes that trade show “your only face-to-face event marketing opportunity” with these individuals.
- Over half of attendees have plans to buy from a trade show exhibitor within 12 months of attending the event.
- 64% of your booth’s visitors are not your current customers.
If you’ve done your homework and chosen the best trade shows for your business, these stats mean that you have a great opportunity. Don’t squander your investment by relying on the same familiar techniques to bring in business. Instead, utilize these seven secrets to boost your trade show success.[Tweet “Create a “multi-sensory experience” within your trade show booth to maximize event ROI.”]
7 Secrets for Trade Show Success
1. Staff your booth with qualified individuals.
How do you currently decide who will man your exhibit? Is it based on volunteers who do so when a show’s location is right for them? Or is it because a salesperson’s customer will be in attendance and he needs to meet with them?
Event professionals are seeing the impact loose staffing decisions like these have on success. So much so that 44% began this New Year optimistic about their trade show program as a result of “better booth staffing.” For many, outsourcing staff is likely their secret.
With event and experiential marketing on the rise, bringing in outside staff has never been easier or more reliable. This is especially true when using an event staffing company to qualify the right talent. Specialized brand ambassadors trained on your products, solutions and messaging can bring in attendees, provide an experience and build a relationship to result in sales.
2. Be even better at showcasing what you offer.
If product samples or demonstrations are applicable to your offerings, you’re probably already doing them. It’s now time to do them better and enhance your interaction with booth visitors.
Give people more reason to stop and talk when you incorporate a contest, giveaway or another fun activity, like a photo booth, into your existing efforts. Earn your company greater rewards when you’re able to tie in aspects of social media, such as customized hashtags. Getting creative and taking advantage of the latest in digital allows you to extend your reach outside of the expo hall.
3. Gather as much actionable data as possible.
When you attend trade shows this year, what is your goal? Is it to launch a new product or sell existing products? Is it to solidify current relationships or create new ones? Whatever it is, think what information you need from trade show attendees to achieve it. Then, make a plan to get that data.
Meaningful conversations can provide the details you need, but booth traffic can oftentimes make it hard to commit to memory. Lead scanners may be available for rent, but may not offer flexibility. Instead, rely on mobile technology and combine this initiative with other booth activities. For example, set up a mobile attendee check-in station, customized with your questions. Require attendees visit it before getting their chance to compete for a prize.[Tweet “64% of your trade show booth’s visitors are not your customers. Be on top of the opportunity.”]
4. Make post-show follow up personalized.
Every exhibitor will likely have access to the attendee list, and nearly all of them will send a mass email shortly after the trade show closes. You can avoid getting lost in the shuffle or auto-deleted when you use your attendee information to send personal notes to visitors.
It may sound daunting, but little effort is needed with the tools available today, such as customized email response. Just be sure to include a next step or call to action to keep your momentum and move the relationship to the next level.
5. Choose a measurable sponsorship that will result in relationships.
There’s no doubt that conference and exhibition organizers will show the love for sponsors. However, ask yourself what your business will gain by putting its logo on the reception napkins. That’s a hard one to measure, so if you’re going to sink dollars into a sponsorship, make sure the rewards will be clear.
The best types of sponsorships are ones that allow you to interact with attendees—an event marketing opportunity. Work with conference organizers to personalize the event with your specific messaging, not just your logo, and use the time to make invaluable personable connections and amplify your sponsorship ROI.
6. Host non-show related events to maximize your time.
The event sponsorships mentioned above tend to be the most expensive available—and for obvious reason! If their price tag is not within your reach, and even if it is, consider organizing your own event outside of trade show hours. Your agenda should allow attendees to relax or to learn something they can’t get anywhere else. Then, when sending invites, position your event as having “limited seating” and watch as Fear Of Missing Out (or FOMO) kicks in. You’ll be surprised at just how fast those seats fill!
As mentioned, make sure you have the right people on hand to take advantage of one-on-one interaction and to gather the information you need.
7. Forgo the chachkies and spend money where it matters.
Did you read through the secrets above and wish you had the money to implement them? You may, if you can relocate money that you are spending in unnecessary areas. Take traditional event chachkies for example. When you order your booth swag, have you considered how it impacts your goal? If your aim is to make your target number of sales at the trade show, handing out flash drives or koozies is unlikely to get you there. Review each trade show expense and consider how it contributes to your objective. Chances are you’ll find the money you need to build a better experience for your attendees and a bigger bottom line for your company.
If you absolutely must have a giveaway, consider a digital gift bag. Provide attendees with a link in a follow up email or via text message which allows them to download special offers, coupons, discounts and more. Digital gift bags are economical, environmentally friendly and help drive a desired action. What’s more is that you can easily and instantly monitor clicks to identify which offers are most popular and which ones should be discontinued.
Your company spends valuable dollars on conferences and exhibitions every year. EPS’ event staffing and execution services can help boost your trade show success by creating lasting memories for attendees and providing you with greater ROI.