Trade shows bring together major players in the industry to talk about, and display their latest products and offerings. It is an extremely important event with respect to lead and subsequent revenue generation. This is a golden chance to impress potential customers.
But, organizing trade shows is no mean feat. It requires meticulous planning, keen attention to detail and ability to execute.
However, without a well-planned pre-show strategy in place, your chances of success are greatly diminished. A whopping 63% of trade show leads fail to convert because sales follow up is too late—we’ve talked about this in one of our short videos on tradeshow marketing technology.
Here are some ways to develop a great pre-show strategy for your next trade show:
1. Build a thorough list
Preparation for a trade show should ideally start three to four months before it is scheduled to take place. The first step should be to build a thorough list of the companies or people you want to potentially meet there. It is a good idea to start building the list as early as you can, since you might just miss out on crucial names if you are under a time constraint. The list can include your existing and prospective customers and any leads that you might have. You can also request the management’s list of attendees to get an idea of who is attending, and get a clearer picture.
2. Send out emails
Once you have built your email list, it is time to start your email marketing campaign. This is one of the most efficient and reproductive ways to reach the customer. Starting this exercise early can give you an advantage over your peers. You can evaluate the click-through rates on your emails, and gauge the number of people who are interested. Once you have a clear idea about the number of interested customers, you can change your game plan accordingly. It is also a good exercise to send an email just before the event is taking place, as a gentle reminder. It can improve your brand recall in the customer’s mind at the event.
3. Identify your core value
Getting this right is very important. Even though you may have many products, you have to decide where you want to emphasize on, during the trade show. You must decide on what kind of value you are offering to the customer at the trade show. You should start by strategically deciding on your value on offer at the event, and abide by it. It can improve focus and help, and help you prepare better.
4. Market research
Market research is a method that can pay rich dividends at a trade show. It can be used to your strategic advantage. Ideally, three to four months before a trade show, you should start a market research about the industry you cater to. You should research about the current product offerings, latest technologies, industry requirements and needs, and the current industry gaps and opportunities. With this, you can have a clear idea about the market trend of the industry, and gaps that are there to be filled. You can align your product offerings based on the exact industry needs. This way, you will be a step ahead of your competitors, by offering what the market requires. This can create a huge difference ultimately at the trade show.
5. Plan your own event
This is a strategic decision that you may decide to go ahead with. It requires thorough planning, and if executed well, could generate brownie points for you. Plan on a special counter beside your booth serving the choicest dinner and/or cocktails, aimed at attracting the potential customers. This is a great way to break into a meaningful conversation and advertise your products. It is a costly effort, no doubt, but it has its benefits. It can build goodwill and provide ground for your sales executives to follow up very easily.
6. The booth design
Your booth will play a big role in attracting customers on the day of the trade show. It is thus important to pay attention to the details beforehand, and plan accordingly. A good pre-show strategy must make adequate allowance for an attractive booth.
A great way to start is by booking a strategic location for your booth beforehand. Even if you reserve a premium space at a price, you can make it worth the investment.
In a trade show, time is limited and booths are many. To ensure visibility and lead generation, you must make your booth enticing enough for customers to visit.
After doing a great booth design, you must plan on customer engagement. Remember, the booth design will be useful only to attract customers to your counter. Lead generation, sales pitching and revenue generation will depend on how you take it from there. Alongside an appealing booth design, calculated and well-designed customer engagement protocol is the key to success.
7. Leverage technology of mobile apps
Its high time you implemented the technologies available around you as a viable pre-show strategy. Traditionally, booths collect the physical business cards of prospective customers as they visit the booth. In the humdrum and the melee of the event, cards may be lost or misplaced. You may forget about a really interested prospective lead who really wants to buy, and focus on someone who is not interested at all. Along with cards, you may misplace your priorities as well. This can hurt your revenue stream.
However, with increased smartphone penetration, powerful business card scanners have become very popular. Business card scanning apps have essentially eliminated the need for physical storage of cards at one go. These apps pool all the information about your contacts, including contact details, onto a single platform. The platform can be accessed anytime from anywhere. This results in extremely flexibility to access customer data whenever required, especially during a sales pitch, which can lead to a much more value-based selling experience.
For example, ScanBizCards, one of the most popular business card scanning apps, can capture B2B leads in real-time with accurate business card and conference badge scanning, CRM export, email, among many other features.
Trade shows involve a sizeable amount of investment. Rather than walk into it unprepared, it is advisable to have a strong pre-show strategy in place. You get time to mull things over, do an effective customer segmentation, selective targeting, and prepare strong positioning statement that instantly connects with your target customers.
A little bit of necessary preparation never hurt anyone!