‘Tis the Season to Plan Your Trade Show: Ten Tips for Top Trade Show Value

  |   Blog

As August ends, we marketers say goodbye to the summer and hello to trade shows and conferences.  Here are our hints for getting the best return on your trade show investment.

1.    What’s the Story, Trade Show Glory?
Do you have a clear theme for your show?  Is your whole team on the same page? Companies may be excited by launches of new programme progressions, but isn’t the importance of this massive line item in your marketing budget to generate demand? If so, normal marketing engagement rules apply: think from an end user’s perspective. It’s smart to engage with the end user at a trade show like you would with anyone else. You have to ask yourself key questions: where does the show messaging fit within your larger content marketing strategy? Have you wrapped the show into all relevant communication channels? Embedding a trade show as a ‘hero’ moment in your strategy can make it work much better for you from a lead viewpoint.


2.    All Roads Lead to Lead Generation
Some of our clients veer away from big generic shows; whilst traffic can be great, lead conversion does not automatically follow. Raffling Apple Watches at your booth might drive traffic and get business cards, but it won’t automatically get you leads. Consider how all roads at your show need to lead to business, encouraging the right people to relevant meetings with your executives. Buzz is nice. Leads are better.


3.    Big Boulder Content
Amongst the trade show noise, launch a big piece of content. Call it a boulder. In the run up to your trade show, you might start pushing your message up the hill, gathering market interest. The show is your starting point; let the big content travel through your channels and gather momentum. Be bolder with your boulder! There’s a lot you can do with a solid chunk of content. When building ideas, always ask, is this helpful and relevant to my audience? Does it inspire?


4.    Maximising effectiveness of executive attendance
Having your most senior people shoe-gazing on a stand is a bad idea. Put them to work. One of our clients hires out a pub near their biggest trade show. We promote this as a complementary event, encouraging many show-attendees to come and discuss their business and the market. This is also a way to chat to your customers informally about creating new content. It’s a nifty, cost-effective way of getting more value out of a trade show.


5.    Innovative Technology
People like to look at technology. Even if your technology isn’t a gadget or gizmo, you can be innovative. What about having one of your sales people demo-ing from another country via a double robotic unit? You can simultaneously be current, cost-effective, and original. If you have a speaker at a plenary session, insist they use an interactive app like Glisser so you can survey the crowd. We’ve often used trade shows to survey customers. The results can be used for follow-up campaigns, helping figure out people’s interests in ahead of big customer events. It’s all about thinking creatively.


6.    Do Put your Thought Leaders on the Stage Mrs Worthington
A great way to get conversations going is to put your thought leaders on the stage, ideally alongside your customers. If you can’t get the right people in the room, consider a hybrid presence with elements of virtual attendance. This is the moment to really engage with the market – surveys and polling data will help with your content marketing and lead generation. Don’t let time zones hold you back.


7.    Create a Buzz Internally
Trade shows must not be exhibited as a chore. Get your most senior leadership on board with selling their value. It’s important to internally build appetite for the event. Briefing documents on logistics are essential, combined with a sense of unity. If everyone understands the prospects the show will bring, then they will understand the goal and their role within it.


8.    Brand Promotion/News
How is your brand represented on the event’s website? If journalists are taking time to visit a trade show, they need to show their editor something valuable on return. They won’t just re-print a bunch of press releases about ‘version this or that’. They are looking for genuine market insight. Use your thought leaders to generate interest around your message through their blogging platforms and social media profiles. Arm them with your Boulder content – giving them valuable material will make you proud when you see the coverage. Additionally, instead of give-aways, save your money and build experiences for your customers. Reward them with career building knowledge instead of a tacky stress ball.


9.    Trusted Suppliers
External suppliers can help you deliver an excellent trade show end-to-end. Be clear about what’s expected – does the supplier understand the client’s expectations?  With the right information, your team of trusted suppliers can support you during this highly-visible moment in the marketing calendar, taking the event from good to great.


10.    Follow Up
Once the show is done, the harder work begins. It’s time to analyse its effectiveness and follow up on leads and insights from your target customers.


We hope you’ve found this helpful and that it’s sparked a few ideas. If you need support in delivering any element of your trade show, we would love to chat. We can help you with everything from logistics through to content creation.