Unleash Greatness

Ways To Maximize The Return On A Trade Show Investment

By Rob Hawse

To get the most out of your trade show investment, take the time to identify your best prospects and customers and then provide them with a thoroughly planned and well-crafted experience — before, during and after the show.

If you are planning to participate in one or more trade shows next year, the time to start working on those projects isnow.

To get the most out of your investment you will want to not only plan the booth design but also, and more importantly, plan out the entire experience you want your visitors to have before, during and after the show.

Following are some guidelines for what should happen and when, to make sure you get the most out of this important investment.

Planning and Pre Show

The Pareto Principle states that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. That means 20% of a company's customers typically account for 80% of sales.

In this planning phase, you will want to segment and create profiles for that 20 percent, including the percentage of sales they typically represent. You then will create a plan for managing their expectations for the show and give them a sense of what they will experience when visiting your booth.

Don’t give everything away — there should be surprises. You want to give enough to get visitors excited but not so much that you will tip off your competitors and give them time to counter.

If you do this right, the visitor will not only make your booth a destination, they also will know exactly what they are supposed to do when they get there.

Show Time

Any promises you made to visitors as a result of the planning phase must be seamlessly fulfilled and more. Again, you will want to deliver some surprises that are in line with what they are interested in. The reaction you want is “Wow, I didn’t realize you did that!”

Consider carefully the flow of the booth and resist the urge to fill every nook and cranny with stuff. Think through how the visitor is going to go through the booth and what you have set them up to do. A well thought out experience supported by the right environment will increase visitors’ ability to learn and cause them to become even more enamored of your product.

Note: Bigger is not necessarily better. A monster booth will get you attention and wows, but unless you plan out the experience, a big booth does not guarantee the visitor will have the experience you want them to have or deliver the results you’re looking for.

Post Show

Post show is all about exceeding the expectations of everyone who visited. And you will know exactly who visited, thanks to technology. Who are they? How do they correspond to the preshow profiles? What will you do to keep the conversation going? Post show is the time to reach back out and remind them of the experience they had with you and follow through on all promises that were made.

If you’re a manufacturer with distributors, get in a room with them before the show and plan out who is doing what so that the brand presents a unified front in the booth and after the show. Otherwise customers will pick up on any confusion or disorganization within your ranks, distracting them from accomplishing their goals.

To get the most out of your trade show investment start managing the trade show as an end to end experience that begins when the show is announced.

This will enable you to create relationships with visitors that you can confirm at the show and then nurture into great customers who will continue to buy from you for years to come.

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