Are Trade Shows Right for You?
By Jeff Davidson
Because trade shows have grown so rapidly in number, and because exhibitors typically want to get the most for the money it costs to participate, if you’re considering exhibiting, one of the most important questions to answer is: Which show(s) do I want to attend? The answer is: What shows do my targets attend? Then, think of the possibility of reaching those people through agents and distributors (middlemen) who in turn reach your client or customer. If may make much more sense to participate in a trade show attended by agents or distributors than one attended by end users.
For example, one entrepreneur started a business that represents several ski resorts in their nationwide marketing. She participates in trade shows as their representative, but she doesn’t look for shows that would be attended by skiers who might visit the resorts. Instead, she goes to shows that are attended by travel agents who will guide skiers to the resorts she represents. At the trade shows, she runs videos of the resorts, provides brochures about the areas and their amenities and entertain travel agents in a hospitality suite after trade show hours.
Good Prospecting Opportunity
To come away from the show with a list of blue chip prospects for follow-up, agents who might not actually buy or sign up for anything on the spot, but who are worth your time in terms of follow-up contacts requires, start by asking the association sponsoring the show for a list of those attending. From that list, begin selecting your potential prospects and send them, ahead of time, some information about your company and an invitation to visit your trade show exhibit.
Follow this up with phone calls and try to arrange specific times to meet with some of the individuals you have targeted during the week of the show. The group you have targeted for their high potential will, during the show, slowly narrow down to a smaller group of actual prospects – people you’ll keep in touch with after the trade show.
Who to Send to the Show
The best people to send are trained personnel who are informed and enthusiastic about your service or product. This could be you or others on your staff. However, have you noticed how many exhibits are hosted by local temporary personnel whose only prior information is the location of the booth they are handling? It is very tempting to hire “on location,” since these people don’t need to fly from somewhere to attend. But, if you do hire local assistance, you’ll need to give them plenty of back-up support in terms of knowledgeable individuals from the main office and training prior to the show.
The companies that are most thorough in this regard assemble everybody involved in their exhibit, including company employees, the day before the opening. At that time, they clarify objectives, train local temporary personnel and prepare a schedule for “working” the booth. Everyone gets the same message about how to handle interested show attendees and how to best represent to company.
One trade show marketing planner suggests informing people who work on the show about the costs involved. When your staff knows the cost of exhibiting, and how important it may be to the company, they will act accordingly.
Follow-up: As Important as the Show Itself
What you will do to follow up on the contacts you’ve made during the trade show? Interest can evaporate quickly if it isn’t nurtured. You’ll need to stay in touch with contacts you made at the trade show to continue to provide them with information about your products or services. And this is a good way to demonstrate the personal contact you can provide. By doing a good job of follow-up, you maximize your trade show investment.