Negosentro | How Effective are Trade Shows as Marketing Tool | A trade show can be the most effective marketing tool in your arsenal. Or it can become a money pit. It’s very easy to book your stand space. Arrange for your business cards and flyers. Contact exhibition stand suppliers for all the stands, banners and furniture you require. Then sit back and wait for the due date – and the crowds stampeding to your stand.
Whether well-established business, or new start-up, on this basis you are likely to see little, if any, return on your investment. Like everything, you get out what you put in. A trade show or exhibition needs to be treated as a part of your overall business strategy, both prior to the exhibition, during, and after. So, how do you go about making sure your trade show marketing becomes a successful business tool?
Decide on your aims
Knowing why you want to participate in a trade fair will have a large bearing on the setting up of your trade stand. Are you considering a trade show to increase brand awareness? To look for new suppliers. To launch a new product or manufacturing process. Or to increase product sales?
Picking the right Trade Show
Picking the right trade show is not just about whether to take a stand at a business to business (B2B), or business to consumer (B2C) exhibition, your business model should define that. Firstly, do a little research. Look at the stats for the last trade show at the venue, check the footfall, especially if it was a retail exhibition.
Check that participant or visitor demographics match your requirements, and seek out any feedback from previous exhibitors. The cost of your stand will depend on size and position. Ask to see a floor plan of the hall, and book space where there is a good through-flow of traffic, but be prepared to pay a premium for the privilege Ask the organisers about their plans to promote the trade fair, their advertising campaigns, and the numbers they expect to attend.
Organise your Trade Stand
While the better exhibition stand suppliers have trade stand packages to help you reduce costs, including audio, video and Wi-Fi equipment, there are still items you need to purchase. Bespoke company roller banners, tension banners or outside banners in company colours, purchase business logo and connect with manufacturers for fabric needs. Listen to professional advice from your trade stand suppliers, on how best to organise your stand for your particular needs. Your business promotional material needs to be ordered. And arrangements made for materials and products to be transported from base to venue.
Advertise your attendance
Add a blog to your website at least a month before the event, and follow it up with a couple of updates. Run a few of ads in pertinent trade journals. Organise an email campaign informing suppliers, relevant contacts, clients, and prospective new customers, of your trade show intentions. Mention any offers or special deals you intend to put on.
During the trade show
Early starts setting out products and samples before the exhibition opens its doors, are the order of the day. Advertising materials and flyers have to be displayed in prominent positions, so the casual browser can pick one up. Make sure you have notebooks or tablets to jot down the details of anyone showing interest in your products. Prepare for hour on hour spent chatting to clients, suppliers, and other interested parties. With all this to consider, taking a two, three, or four man team allows your crew to take regular comfort and coffee breaks. It helps keep them fresh, and more likely to secure new business or complete those sought after sales.
After the doors have closed
After the event, hold a debrief in your hotel, or at latest the first day back in the office. An especially important process if you intend to participate in future trade shows. Analyse what worked and what didn’t. Make referral notes, so your next trade show can be even more successful.
Don’t let the grass grow
Email all those old and new clients who showed interest in products and processes at the show. Contact those prospective suppliers, who said they can offer you a better deal, and enlarge on short discussions had with other interested parties during the fair.
Finally, trade show marketing, when organised properly, provides the opportunity to reach a much wider audience of similarly minded people, than would otherwise be possible. Not only potential customers, but the opportunity to develop mutual partnerships with other sections of your particular industry. Make the most of your first trade show venture, with some effective pre-show planning.