As posted in the Gaston Gazette
No matter your niche, a trade show exists for you to either learn or exhibit. This booming marketing tool allows a business to reach an active target audience that attends a specific show with purpose. According to 2018 statistics shared by SpinGo Event Management, 92 percent of trade show attendees go to learn the latest in products and services. But how do you motivate this audience to move? How do you generate leads and sales within an expo setting?
Displaying your business at a trade show can be a costly risk; however, if you engage your audience properly – from planning to follow up – the risk can pay off. Here are five tips for creating success at a trade show:
- Create an experience. It’s no secret that trade show audiences want to be wowed. Rather than simply telling your business’ story with a few pamphlets and a single salesperson, create an inviting and interactive experience that not only will draw increased attention, but woo booth visitors. In advance, design a show space that brings your brand to life and creates interest. If you’re pitching a product, fully showcase it; provide samples, conduct demonstrations, show production videos and more, all painting the brightest picture possible of why this product fills a need. When sharing a service, share it from the expo floor; carve out table space for one-on-one meetings, install model machinery, highlight materials and so on. Give passersby a reason to stop and learn more about the void your business can satisfy. And round out the experience by meeting guest needs – share snacks, candy or water with attendees then create conversation with each paused person.
- Train booth staff. Said Richard Montanus, founder of ExpoResult and former exhibition researcher, “Twenty-nine percent of booth visitors at consumer shows become regular buyers of at least one of the exhibitor’s products. But if you don’t interact, you can’t convert.” Equipping booth staff with the personal tools necessary to converse well and share vital details is essential. The actions of your team will dictate your business’ lingering reputation as well as any results that emerge. Thus, training your booth team can be game changing! Staff must be well versed in the product or service – knowledgeable and able to discuss benefits and rewards with ease. Additionally, exhibitors should select staff who can properly qualify leads; it’s not enough to divulge details, but representatives should go one step further to generate sales or new clients. Per stats from Exhibitor Magazine, 85 percent of an exhibitor’s success hinges on the performance of its booth staff and only 26 percent of exhibitors conduct event-related training. Even more surprising, those who undergo training can convert qualified leads into sales 15.8 percent of the time, compared to 7.4 percent among untrained individuals. Train your team members in advance and capitalize better on their conversations to move ahead of competitors.
- Engage advertising and public relations. Many expo exhibitors rest solely on their small space within the greater event. They forget the immense value that additional touchpoints can bring, including advertising and public relations tactics. Move the extra mile; engage in beneficial communications strategies that push your booth and business to the forefront. Purchase an advertisement in the trade show publication. Become a sponsor of the expo or a demonstration within it. Engage local or trade media toward timely opportunities, such as feature articles or television interviews. Incorporate active, live content from the show floor onto your social media channels. Host an after-hours event, such as a cocktail hour with industry partners and potential leads or a “dinner and learn” (think “lunch and learn” at supper time) to share more info with interested parties. These supplementary suggestions can highlight your unique business and your booth’s presence above other event exhibitors and among attendees in addition to cultivating new professional relationships.
- Contact leads in a timely manner. The biggest reason for exhibiting at a trade show is to generate new leads. A brief window of opportunity exists in expo circumstances. It’s essential that you take advantage of every connection both at the event and following the show’s closing. Touch base in a timely manner, within 24-48 hours after the initial trade show discussion. Contacting everyone who visited your booth in this fast time frame aids in attendees remembering you more plus provides a convenient method for those interested to respond. Continue to contact leads in the weeks ahead as well, a minimum of three times to share additional details and gauge the interest level.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. This may seem repetitive, but the value of following up with potential leads cannot be understated. Create a plan for follow up in advance of the show. SpinGo notes that the average expo attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing various exhibitors, thus standing out is critical. Use the trade show as an opportunity to follow up with clients who have previously reached out in addition to cultivating new engagements. Touch base with every person after the show, acting as a good host and an eager partner. Continue those follow ups between three and seven times in the two post-show weeks, using these moments to showcase other information or schedule on-site meetings. Failure to follow through simply leaves your business forgotten among the abundance of exhibitors. But creating an active plan for answering additional questions and building relationships helps your business stand out among the plethora of promoters.
The estimated cost of meeting a prospective client, according to Spin Go, is $259. That face-to-face meeting price decreases to $142 at trade shows. But the expo experience can be truly invaluable if you plan properly, engage enthusiastically and intelligently, generate new connections and follow up as a trusted business.