Trade Show Planning – The BDA 10 – “Before the Show”

Great! You’ve finally got the approval to attend a Trade mxl tv. Now what? Trade shows can either be a very expensive excuse to get out of the office for a few days, lug around heavy display cases, party too much and sleep too little, and get flat feet standing around on concrete all day long, OR it can energize your company’s Sales program immediately, and for many months to come. How do you ensure it’s “Door Number 2”, and not a wasted opportunity?

A major trade show requires considerable advance preparation and, if you aren’t ready, can present a logistical nightmare. You must develop a solid plan and monitor your progress vigilantly.

Now, let’s be brutally honest – when it comes to planning, someone from your Sales Department may not be the best choice – much like you don’t use a hammer to drive in a screw (at least I hope you don’t…). Top Salespeople are prized for their people-skills, and their ability to SELL, but when it comes to longer term planning and attention to detail, they come up short. Do the entire company a favor and put your most anal-retentive (that’s a good thing!), details-oriented person in charge of the planning, under your supervision, of course!

Participating in a trade show requires a major investment of time, money, and resources. Be tough in your evaluation of a show’s “worthiness”. Are the attendees likely customers for your business? Better one small, focused show, than a “monster” Trade Show that doesn’t fit your profile.

Before you go too much further, make sure you have the Trade Show’s manual (usually mailed to you by the show’s organizers right after registering for your booth, but it can sometimes be found on-line. Be sure to ask.) Everything you need to know about the show should be there, including registration information and forms, schedules and floor plans, booth specifications, invitations for potential speakers, etc., etc.

What exactly do you want to accomplish at this Trade Show? Do you want to gain exposure to potential customers who might be interested in your products, increase visibility, or see what the competition is up to? Concrete goals are important to determine the ROI of the Trade Show to your business.

Determine a way to measure each goal’s (see #3, above) success, as specifically as possible. Plan on handing out 1000 promotional flyers, make contact with at least 100 prospects, and take a key client out to lunch. These ROI benchmarks will help you decide whether the show was worth the expense, and whether you should attend next year.

Advertise well before the Trade Show! Use tag lines such as: “see us at Booth 1234 at the 2006 World’s Biggest Trade Show” in news releases and other communications (even unrelated communications) leading up to the Trade Show. Put the Trade Show logo on your corporate website under “Coming Events”. Invite prospects (and current customers) to stop by the booth, or set up appointments between them and your Trade Show personnel. Do a pre-show e-mail blitz.

Take care of any marketing material updates or redesigns early. Don’t run the risk of having nothing to hand out! Design clear forms (to eliminate guesswork) for filling out prospect information. Consider giveaways to generate attention and a bit of excitement. These don’t have to be expensive – pens with your web address and a catchy slogan can be just as effective. Be creative with something specific to your industry. Think of something that someone did at a previous Trade Show that impressed you, and then steal it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *