by John Hamari
You’ve invested a hefty sum of money into your trade show display. You hope it will perform well enough to deliver a positive return on your investment. The good news is that your success is within your control.
The ROI of your trade show exhibit is directly influenced by your actions and decisions. But that control is a double-edged sword. With it comes the burden of knowing your decisions might also set the stage for poor performance. Although your success remains in your hands, there are several ways to help ensure your display generates a positive return. These are the tips that veteran exhibitors use to make certain their efforts contribute to their companies’ bottom lines.
1) Reserve a High-Traffic Area of the Convention Hall
The more foot traffic you have near your booth, the more opportunities you’ll have to meet and engage attendees. Reserving space in a high-traffic area may be as simple as asking (contact the event organizer). Other times, you’ll be expected to pay a premium. So, what is a high-traffic area in a convention hall? Try getting a spot on the corner where there is always a crossroads of attendees passing. You will be able to engage from all directions and your booth will be more noticeable—not packed between two others. It’s important to remember having the best spot in the convention hall won’t help you if your display is poorly designed. That’s one of many reasons to work with an experienced designer when creating your trade show exhibit.
2) Make Sure Your Staff Has Adequate Training
Your employees have a single overriding purpose while they work your booth. They are to engage attendees, qualify them as leads and collect their contact information. But, to do that effectively, they need training. The traits that will help your employees generate targeted leads aren’t always naturally shown, so adequate training on interactions and what questions to ask is essential. Show your booth staffers how to direct conversations towards learning more about visitors’ business needs. Also show them how to present your company’s products and services as attractive solutions. Engaging visitors and qualifying them according to their respective budgets, needs and buying urgency requires asking good questions and listening attentively to the responses.
3) Make Lead Generation a Top Priority
Of all the actions you take during the event, collecting leads will have the biggest impact on your success. The purpose of your trade show exhibit is to get your company exposure from your target market. The greater your exposure, the more people you’ll attract to your booth. But just because a large number of attendees visit your booth doesn’t mean your efforts to draw them in will generate results. Make sure you are generating the right audience for your company, which should be discussed before you even get to the show and while you’re designing your booth. You and your employees have to engage attendees and determine whether they need your products and services. You must generate leads. Doing so should be your top priority.
4) Promote Your Trade Show Exhibit Before the Event
Trade shows are not only for meeting new prospects. The shows also give you an opportunity to connect with your current customers. When your current customers visit your booth, the face-to-face interaction will help strengthen your relationships with them. Let them know how much you appreciate their business and ask them how things are going. Maybe they’ll have a project coming up they’d love to use you for since you’ve been so accessible and open with them.
So, how do you get your customers to attend the show and visit your booth? You have two options. First, you can do nothing and simply hope they’ll stop by. Second, you can be proactive and promote your exhibit for weeks—even months—before the big day arrives. Email your mailing list. Get the word out via social media. Promote your attendance through direct mail. Share photos and captions through the stages of your event planning and share photos of your booth. Get attendees excited about an in-booth promotion you’ll be offering. A great way to get people to stop by is to offer a giveaway that can only be redeemed by stopping at the booth. That will be a great way to engage in conversation and see how you can solve their needs. Pre-show marketing can have a dramatic effect on the number of people who visit your booth during the event. This in turn will boost your trade show ROI.
5) Offer Giveaways That Won’t be Discarded
Promotional giveaways will attract attendees to your exhibit. Everyone likes free gifts, but make sure they aren’t so cheap they’ll give your company or brand a bad memory. The key is offering giveaways that attendees are likely to keep and use over and over again. For example, coffee mugs with your company’s brand subtly displayed on the bottom are a great idea. So, too, are keychain flashlights, reusable water bottles and travel-sized computer accessories such as a mouse or pair of ear buds. Bad ideas include boomerangs, branded pens and stress balls. They’re overplayed and offer little practical value. You can find the right giveaway for you by asking a few simple questions.
6) Get In Touch with Booth Visitors After the Event
Earlier we noted that lead generation, among the various other actions you take at the event, will have the biggest impact on your success. But collecting leads is only half of the equation. You must follow up on them when you return home. The reality is only about 40% of sales people follow up on leads after the show. That number is painfully low, so make sure you’re giving all of your hard work and investment what it is worth by following up on all of those leads you spoke with.
Many exhibitors, even those who have years of in-the-trenches experience, neglect to follow up with the people they meet at the show. Instead, they shelf their hard-won leads with the intention of addressing them when they have more time. The problem is, targeted leads age quickly. Each day that passes allows them to further cool down. After a few weeks, your chances of converting those leads to customers becomes slim. Follow up needs to happen within one to three days after the show. Don’t let your hard work fall out underneath you.
Given the time and resources you’re devoting to exhibiting, you want to do everything possible to maximize the ROI of your trade show exhibit. When the time comes to prepare for your next event, start planning early and get your timeline in order.
About the author: As president of Skyline Exhibitor Source in Nashville, Tennessee, John Hamari focuses on the overall vision and direction of the company’s large exhibit projects and provides guidance in education, implementation and creative ideation. John has been directly involved in the trade show industry for the past 16 years.
Article source: skylinetradeshowtips.com