November 29, 2017
Speaking (unfortunately) from experience, there's nothing worse than expending a ton of time, energy and money on a trade show that is a complete flop. (Unless it's in Las Vegas, then hey, at least it was fun.) I can speak from experience that having the right team combined with the right training and goals will make your trade show accomplish the best possible results.
An example that comes to mind very quickly- we attended two trade shows for the exact same target market exactly one year apart. Same city, basically the same prospects, same time of year. So essentially the same trade show but 12 month in time difference. The first one was a wild success. The second a total failure. We offered the same products, pricing, literature, displays and collateral.
Why was the first a success and the second a failure? Our conversion for the first show was insane. Our sales team was meeting after the show each day throwing down piles of contracts that were written at the show! The excitement and enthusiasm were off the charts. The second show was the complete opposite. No contracts, no excitement, a very negative atmosphere. It was horrible.
Our trade show sales people were not as effective in the second year as the first. Different people, less aggressive (which is probably the wrong word, but basically in the second year, we took sales people who were extremely passive, and our numbers suffered dramatically.) The first year, our "A" Team sales reps attended. They were out-going without being too aggressive, created rapport and trust with prospects, and ended-up writing a ton of business on the floor as well as converting many follow-up leads. In the second year, our "passive" sales people basically stood at the booth and handed out business cards and catalogs. We did receive many qualified leads that eventually converted to sales, but it was a completely different experience.
What are your expectations for your trade show? Have you experienced wildly successful trade shows, then for some reason, experienced a few (or many) money and time wastes? Training and relying on a goal-oriented team is the key to making every show a success. Whether you're a "one-person show," or have twenty marketing and sales team members helping, it's imperative that you and/or your team covers each of the following Five Vital Trade Show Essentials!
Your team in charge of researching and choosing which trade shows to attend MUST understand your target market. Attending the correct trade shows with the highest number of qualified attendees is vital. Why attend a trade show with a low number of qualified prospects? Trade shows exist for virtually all types of prospects. Proper research will help your team members in charge of selecting shows find the best opportunities.
"Let's Plan To Plan!"Getting your act together well in-advance in these seven areas will make your travels to success much easier.
Marketing is the "fishing pole" for your show. It's what lures the prospects to your booth or table. Which team member is responsible for designing and securing the most effective marketing display(s) and collateral for your show? It could be as simple as a table with a custom table throw and a banner on the wall, or as exotic as 5 $200,000 sports cars sitting in a row in front of your 10,000 square foot booth. But someone's gotta be on the ball for this one.
Conversion=Sales. Whether or not you expect to write contracts at the show, you should at least consider it. Qualified Prospects + Money = Possible Written Orders NOW! Do yourself a favor: if you expect to close some business at the show, take your best, qualified, personable sales reps to the show. Give them big goals and exciting incentives and let your sales team work wonders. Sending passive sales reps to a show will not help you (see above.) Sending your "A" team gives you the chance to write orders at the show which can often instantly pay for the show or generate revenues far in excess of your wildest dreams.
You're certainly going to get leads from the show. Hopefully your team member in charge of creating systems to track these leads did her/his job effectively. But once the show is over, these leads are the "back-end" pay-off for everyone's hard work. Where do the leads go? How are they tracked? It might take 6 months to a year or longer to analyze if this show paid-off in terms of investment. Without a proper tracking and follow-up system, you will never be able to know if this show was worth the investment to attend. How nice would it be that in 3 years you could pull a report from your tracking system that shows the exact return on investment that every show netted? Maybe you should attend this show each time. Maybe it's a waste of time. Maybe you need different team members involved. But without a proper follow-up system, you will be driving with a blind-fold firmly secured to your head.
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