Trade shows are an excellent way for manufacturing companies to engage with people who might be interested in their products. When you exhibit at a trade show, you can put yourself out there before your current and potential customers, prospect for new leads, and gain insight into what other industry leaders are working on.
There are great benefits to exhibiting at a trade show, but it’s not an easy task! To help you improve your trade show ROI, we have created a success strategy blueprint which you can follow and adapt to suit your needs and goals.
Planning for Trade Show Success
Trade show planning doesn’t start when you arrive at the venue—a successful strategy takes months to create and execute. So what exactly do you need to do in the months leading up to the show?
6 Months Before the Trade Show
Even before you begin your strategy, the first step is to choose your trade show. This selection should be a strategic decision; you want to exhibit at shows where you can grab the attention of attendees in your target market. Take the time to do your research on this step!
Once you’ve decided which trade show you’d like to attend, start with these steps:
- Check if your website is up-to-date. Your site is a great way to showcase your business and leave a great first impression. Your website should speak for you, and you wouldn’t want it to look outdated or broken.
- Design a marketing strategy. What are you setting out to achieve? Is your brand relatively new, or have you just announced a new product? This could be to your advantage, as a trade show would provide a great platform to get the news in front of your current and future customers. Better yet, updating your website with this news is a great way to increase traffic, gain new leads, and pique the interest of your website visitors.
- Start announcing your attendance at the trade show. A well-optimized website and an established social media presence are powerful tools, so get creative with announcing your presence at the trade show. Better yet, ask organizers of the show to send you their logos so you can implement them in your announcements and designs. Once you have the designs ready, send out an announcement email and start posting on social media for your followers to see—two or three social posts per week will get people talking. Bonus: does the show have its own hashtag? Start using it in your social posts!
3 Months Before the Trade Show
By now, your clients and customers should be aware that you are attending. Your social posts and emails should have led to some quality conversations about your attending the trade show—and you can use these conversations to set up time to meet with prospects!
Now is the best time to focus on how you’re going to present your business at the trade show.
- Prepare the presentation, the pitch, and brochures. As you prepare, the “wow” effect should be top of mind. Try to develop two separate pitches—one that people within your industry would understand (this would include all of your stats and technical jargon), and one in everyday English. Look at it from the perspective of someone interested in what you are doing, but unfamiliar with your niche. If that person can fully understand what your business is all about, you’re on the right track.
- Establish your target audience. Trade shows are a great networking platform, so it’s important to know who you would like to meet. Who is the ideal person that you would like to do business with? Try to imagine how a conversation with them would go, and what questions they’d ask.
- Set up KPIs. How are you going to measure your success at the trade show? Number of contacts created? Number of mentions on social? Number of people who enter your booth? There are lots of ways you could measure success, so it’s important to establish your key performance indicators (and decide how you’re going to measure them).
- Create a plan to capture leads. Lots of potential customers are going to come through your booth—how are you going to capture their information so you can follow up with them later? One effective way to capture leads is to bring a spare laptop where you can jot down names and email addresses of people you talk to. Better yet, create a landing page on your website where people can input their information. Set up a laptop in your booth for visitors to use; if they’re interested in your product, they can quickly fill in their information and it will be entered directly into your CRM.
One Week Before the Trade Show
This week should be used to go through your trade show success strategy and establish your strengths and weaknesses. This is also the time when it’s great to rehearse the pitch and the presentation. Try to bring in a colleague from a separate department to listen to your pitch and ask you questions. How do they feel about your presentation? How are you delivering your pitch? Once this is ticked, you are ready to go!
The Day of the Trade Show
The day of the trade show has finally arrived. Have you checked all of the boxes above? Then you’re in for a fun and very productive day! Your website updates and social media efforts have come together and you can expect potential customers and clients to come and visit. They can see what you are currently working on and even introduce you to other potential clients.
Remember to focus on the plan you have created by now, and put it in motion. Trade shows are a great place to network, so you’re sure to have a lot of interested people visiting your stand and trying to learn more.
After the Show
Don’t forget about all of those new contacts after you leave the show! If you want great trade show ROI, now is the time to reach out to your new leads; follow up on conversations you had with them, send them resources they would find helpful, and continue to nurture them through email and social media. When you keep the conversation going even after the trade show has ended, you keep the attention of all those new leads—you can continue to build trust with them and nurture them through the buying process.
Increase Your Trade Show ROI with Your Free Checklist
If you’re planning on attending a trade show, make sure you do it right! With the right planning and a great strategy, you’ll be able to maximize your ROI and capture the attention of trade show attendees.
Are you ready to get started? We’ve created a free downloadable trade show planning checklist to make it easy! Download your checklist to make your next trade show the best one yet.