Smart Thinking … A Different Perspective
By Leslie R. Wolff
Integrated Marketing Strategist & Creative Tactitian
Trade shows are an extremely effective marketing tool, when you take the time to think out all the aspects of what makes for a successful trade show. There are many elements to consider and you best make a checklist to be sure you don’t overlook any thing.
I. Pre-Show Planning Checklist:
___ Is this the best trade show for our objectives & the cost?
___ Exhibit (are you creating a new one or using an existing one)
___ Booth size (have adequate space for showing, talking & closing)
___ Booth location ( look to be where there is heavy traffic, near entrances/exits/restrooms/food areas)
___ Booth transportation (be sure it gets delivered in time)
___ Booth set-up (whose responsibility, set time schedule)
___ Booth Communications (are you going to need phones, faxes, electrical outlets for computers, etc.)
___ Hotel rooms (if you are going to do business there make sure you have adequate space and good room service. Try to stay at the show’s headquarter hotel)
___ Transportation (advanced planning can save substantial money)
___ Pre-show promotion (to let prospects and customers know you are there and where)
___ Show incentives (to motivate show traffic to stop in your booth)
___ Lead collection system (makes it easier to follow through on)
___ Training for exhibit staff
___ VIP appointment scheduling plan
___ collateral materials (for handouts)
II. Know who is going to be there:
• You want to know what customers and key prospects are going to be there, so you can take appropriate action to maximize your exposure to them.
• You want to know who of your competition is going to be there, so you can take counter measures to dilute their marketing effectiveness and to be on your toes to any competitive action efforts they take. A trade show is also an excellent place to gather competitive intelligence.
• You want a sense of how many people will be attending, so you can try to project the amount of sales or lead generation activity to expect.
• The organization running the trade show will usually have a list of pre-registered attendees and other exhibitors available at least 60 days prior to the show. Ask for it.
III. Work the 80/20 rule:
Most businesses get 80% of their business from 20% of their customer base. Thus you want to insure that 20% come to your booth. You could do any or all of the following.
• Send a personal note to them requesting them to stop by
• Find out at what hotel they are staying and have a note delivered there
• Offer an incentive for them to visit .. a little gift or a chance to win a prize
• Offer a private appointment time to insure they will get the attention they deserve
Remember it costs 5 times as much to gain a new customer as it does to keep the ones you have, so pamper them every chance you can.
IV. Outthinking the (larger) competition:
Your competitor might have more money to spend on an exhibit, but they don’t have a monopoly
on good ideas.
• Try strong visuals to attract attention, perhaps a mural look attached by velcro to your booth back wall. Many of the manufacturers of the new lightweight material exhibits can supply you or guide you to ways to have a dramatic look at minimal cost.
• Have a “look” for your booth personnel. A nice blazer with a corporate emblem or distinctive wind breaker or even a well designed sweatshirt and cap can be effective (have extras of the latter available, clients might want one to wear).
• A hospitality suite, without booze (or just wine) as a place customers and key prospects are welcome to relax throughout the day can be very appealing and effective in building relationships.
• Have a customer survey disk that people can fill out on their computers (or at your booth) which will have a little incentive gift sent as thanks.
V. Getting The Prospect’s Attention:
Don’t wait until the show. Pre-show promote. Have your sales people identify 5-10 highly qualified prospects each that they know are going to attend the show. Create a dimensional mailing piece (like a coffee cup with their name on it, a packet of coffee, some cookies with your logo) and invite them to come sit down over a cup of coffee at your booth. Oh, yes don’t fail to mention if they do you’ll send them another personalized mug as a thank you! You might want to consider asking them to RSVP and then have ready a sign welcoming them.
VI. Follow Through & Follow-up:
• Be sure all booth personnel are trained in demonstrating, presenting, skilled in asking the right questions, experts in listening and writing down the information requested (make sure there are intelligently designed inquiry/action forms available).
• Each evening be sure all leads are reviewed, actions planned and sent by overnight mail to the office for follow through.
• Each day of the show have a prepackaged “thank you for visiting our booth” letter ready to be mailed out to each lead from the trade show. Include in it a small promotional specialty with your company name on it.
• Invest in a reasonably priced lead tracking software package such as “”””” or ?????. to insure that all leads are followed up within 2 weeks or less and then continually monitored until it is decided that no additional effort is necessary.
VII. After The Show — EVALUATE:
While everything is fresh in your mind and others who worked the show for you, ask what can be done to improve future shows.
List what went well and should be repeated. Identify what was poorly received or implemented and either improve or eliminate.
Call some customers who visited your booth and give them an opportunity to critique your effort on the basis you want to improve your service to your customers. They will love the opportunity to give you advice and it will probably be valuable.
Review your follow-through and follow-up on show leads efforts as they are the areas that generate the revenue and are usually the ones most neglected.
Trade Shows can be a powerful marketing tool, but like all marketing efforts they take careful thought, input from many areas, intelligent planning and smooth implementation.
“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Leslie R. Wolff is an experienced and outspoken Marketing professional, with more than a half century
in the marketing arena His mission in his business, speeches and writings is to reestablish a lost factor
in business … commonsense! It is the foundation on which Smart Thinking is built. Les is CEO of The
Smart Marketing Group, who simply help clients work smarter. He can be reached at 215-334-3432,
firstname.lastname@example.org, Skype: Smart Marketing or http://www.smartmarketingroup.com. His blog is
www/smartmarketingmoves.com. Listen to his radio show, “Smart Marketing for Small Business” on
http://www.blogtalkradio and participate in his LinkedIn Group of the same name.
His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/34172