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Trade Show Planning: Your Roadmap To Success
Thoughtful, strategic trade show planning is essential to achieving your exhibiting goals and maximizing your return on investment, which includes both your money and time.
The first step in the planning process is to identify productive conferences and events that specifically reach your target audience of potential buyers.
Start the research process by talking with current customers and learn about the events they attend. Then, contact professional organizations and colleagues in your industry for additional suggestions.
Once you find an event that looks opportunistic, request to review lists of past vendors and attendees, if available from the show sponsor.
Make sure the trade show you select draws the type and number of prospects you want. Other key considerations include geography, timing, cost, and sponsor reputation.
Then once you have identified which trade show to attend, develop a detailed plan and tradeshow check lists that includes these steps:
•Establish Specific Event Objectives… such as number of product sales, leads generated, publicity secured, image and awareness initiatives, etc.
•Set a Realistic Budget… that includes a projected return on investment
•Develop a Compelling to-the-Point Sales Message… that you will use in all marketing and sales efforts (including booth graphics and design) for the trade show.
•Create a Trade Show Marketing Plan… that is divided into three sections: 1. Pre-Show Marketing, 2. At-Show Marketing, and 3. Post-Show Marketing. You’ve got to aggressively pre-sell prospects before they arrive, fully engage them during the show, and promptly follow-up with them after the show to generate additional sales.
•Create a "WOW" Exhibit… that attracts people and instantly conveys your image and product message. Whether you have a custom-designed booth, rental display, or used exhibit, make the graphics deliver your message with a powerful punch - and have promotions to draw people to your booth (interactive demonstrations, food, contests, giveaways, etc.)
•Confirm Booth Location in the Exhibition Hall… with the sponsor as part of your trade show planning process. Try to secure a high traffic location at the event. In addition, confirm access to electrical outlets, lighting, and other needs you may have.
•Print Marketing Materials… including sales literature, product sheets, business cards, and promotional items you will use at and after the show.
•Train and Schedule Staff… to effectively convey your sales message and ensure your booth is always staffed adequately.
•Prepare Follow-up Information Packets… so they are ready to immediately use with new leads after the show is over
•Make Travel Arrangements… to ensure you, your staff, exhibit booth, materials and supplies arrive in plenty of time for the show.
•Follow-up with Attendees… prioritize your leads and make follow-up contact promptly.
•Evaluate Trade Show Success… to determine if you met your objectives and identify changes to make in the future.