4 Tips to Knock Your Next Trade Show Out of The Park

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02/27/2017

It's a trade show or event manager's nightmare: getting grilled by the VP of Marketing about why booth traffic is down and you netted even fewer leads than in the prior year. If you feel yourself starting to sweat, you know what I’m talking about.

In my days as a divisional marketing leader one of the most daunting — and exciting — challenges was planning and executing our trade shows each year. Granted, I wasn’t designing booths or negotiating with the event facility. But, I was the air traffic controller — the one ensuring that all the parts and pieces fit together and the show was a success for our team. In other words, the buck stopped here.

That nightmare scenario — picture the interrogation room from any cheesy ‘70s cop show — was one I worked tirelessly to avoid. Over the years I learned a few invaluable best practices that helped me and my team ensure we delivered on our objectives.

Want accolades after your next show? Put these best practices to work for you.

1 Bring Innovation to the Table

When designing your booth, new thinking is crucial for setting your business apart. To innovate you have to thoroughly understand both the show environment and what your competitors are offering, and then devise a strategy to differentiate yourself. Tech can help. There are tons of options as any Google search will attest.

Use tech judiciously to promote your business, tell your story and showcase your products and services. Just one caveat: don’t fall into the trap of choosing a new technology just because it’s generating a lot of buzz. Make sure it's something that complements rather than overshadows your message.

In a trade show environment, potential customers spend mere minutes in your booth. You don’t want them to get caught up in the bells and whistles and miss the message you want them to hear. So do your homework: find tech that helps you attract people to your booth as well as retain their interest long enough for you to promote your wares.

2 Allow Your Reps to Focus on Why They’re There

Few things are more frustrating to the in-booth team tasked with generating leads and closing deals than having to interrupt promising sales conversations to restock marketing collateral or handle logistical tasks.

As the event manager, you’re pulled in a thousand directions and don’t have time to handle these types of tasks. So nip this problem in the bud. When designing your show booth, create one that automates as many tasks as possible, from capturing visitor data to offering instant email fulfillment of product information.

Booth tech has come a long way so incorporate the right tools to allow your onsite team to focus on what they do best — engage and sell to prospects.

3 Leverage Social Before, During and After the Show

You’ve designed an attention-grabbing booth that incorporates tools to help you tell your brand story, showcase your products and services, and capture essential visitor data. You’re almost ready for opening day. But first, you need to do a little pre-show promotion.

Take a look at past-show performance. Analyze attendance numbers and examine who is visiting your booth (e.g. titles, companies, industries). Then identify opportunities to market specifically to these folks weeks before the show begins.

During and after the event, too.

Before the show, email campaigns and “visit booth #” social media posts do well to provide general exposure. These efforts should be integrated into your company’s overall marketing plan.

At the show itself, you can rely more on your team on the ground to use social in real time to further promote. Ask your reps to tweet and post your booth location and invitations to check out your latest products, as well as call out their availability to meet with prospects on or off the trade show floor.

Is your company presenting a session? Sponsoring an in-show get-together? Holding a special event at your booth? Great. More opportunities to promote your show presence. Push your team to create buzz for those opportunities. They can also post about interesting new products (from non-competitors), speaker quotes from sessions they attended or general musings about the show. All referencing your company (and booth number).

Be sure to use your company’s own social channels, as well as the ones set up specifically for the show, with the show’s hashtag.

More social engagement from your team means more traffic to your booth and more attention for your business. And that can mean more sales.

That nightmare hot-seat grilling? Nothing you’ll need to worry about.

4 Plan for the Unexpected

No matter how disciplined and thorough you are in the planning of an event, something usually goes awry. That’s when a little foresight and planning can help you avert disaster.

Compile a list of local resources in the market your show is being held so you can quickly access any last-minute services or parts. Need to replace a lost HDMI cable? No problem. Locate a missing piece of equipment? Check. Doing some worst-case scenario planning will not only save you time but more importantly provide peace of mind in the event of an at-show emergency.

While there’s tons of advice out there on driving trade show success, I have used these fundamental tips and know they work. Rest assured they can help make your life a little easier and your show more successful.

If you want to talk trade show success, give me a shout. Catch me at 617.621.0060 or info@viewpointtouch.com. If you’re attending #ExhibitorLive 2017, swing by ViewPoint’s Booth #1529. I’ll show you some compelling interactive tech you can use to make even more noise at your next trade show.

Ken Ciesielski

Ken Ciesielski

ViewPoint Interactive Solutions, National Sales Manager

A seasoned business development and marketing executive, Ken is National Sales Manager for ViewPoint. He has a strong track record of acquiring new clients and growing brands. And, a not-so-secret passion for all things hockey.

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