Around 36% of B2B marketers feel that trade shows give their companies the highest ROI in comparison with other channels that they use.
Trade shows can be great right? They can help you network, bring in customers, find investors and more but quite often the experience becomes an exercise in futility. The expenses: booths, displays, conveyance, accommodation etc…the ROI on these events sometimes doesn’t justify the effort. With a few trade shows going on right now including “shoporg13” and more coming up in the future, we hope you can use some of what we’ve learnt.
1)Find the right trade show
Start with finding the right trade show for you to attend, there’s quite a few of them all year round and ending up at a wrong event would be a giant waste of money and effort. Work backwards on this one, find out how many of your target customers are likely to attend any event and then take a decision on which one to go to. Some good eCommerce trade shows are the Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition and shop.org’s annual summit.
Once you know which event you are going to attend, you then need to take a decision on whether you want to go as an attendee or if you are going to set up a booth at the event. Setting up a booth is generally more expensive. Do remember that while going as an attendee will still give you ample opportunities to network, setting up a booth will give you much more in networking possibilities, attendee attention and more
2)Tell people you are going to be there
Getting some attention before the event is priceless. Start with finding out the people/companies that are likely to be at the event. Prepare a list of your targets among them and reach out to them on linkedin or elsewhere and try to set up plans to meet at the event, this will be especially useful if you plan on going as an attendee and want to network.
If you are setting up a booth at the trade show, generating some early interest will definitely help in increasing the number of footfalls to your booth. Trending hashtags on the event are a great way to drum up some interest. While doing that make sure you give a clear idea of what attendees can expect from you. Here’s what we would do.
3)Generate chatter, grab some eyeballs
In most trade shows you are going to competing with over a thousand other companies for some attention. We’ve found that having a fun, engaging product video running in a loop on a display is a great way to grab the attention of people in the vicinity.
Using give-aways can also help in creating interest. Neil Patel, the founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics talks about a great example of Omniture using themed give-aways to generate buzz at a conference.
Location can mean everything for a booth, of course the prime spots are going to be more expensive, be a little creative, study the floor plan and pick up spots that people have to take to get to lunch or the refreshments section.
4)Adapt and deliver your message
Start with some research(pre-event) into the needs of the brands/people likely to be there. Use this to create different versions of the message you’d like to convey. Do ensure that you are building up on your pre-event efforts to generate interest.
Once you’ve managed to get someone’s attention or you have people in your booth, ask them questions on problems they face, adapt your message and give them answers that will solve that.
5)Leave something behind
Most attendees at a trade show are likely to meet more companies/people than they can possibly remember, make it easier for them to do so, leave something behind.
Our visiting cards have a 4-word description of what we do on the back so anyone who takes one of them can easily find out what we do without having to do any research.
Leave a simple, visually appealing one-page document on your company with clear descriptions of the problem you solve.
So what do you folks think? How do you prepare for trade shows? Do let us know in the comments section below.