Trade shows are costly – there’s no way around it. They often yield great results, but the initial investment can be daunting. Renting the booth space, booking travel arrangements and lodging, and advertising attendance can all add up.
Here are nine actionable steps that you can take to increase your success without eating into your return on investment.
Register Early for a Good Location
The phrase “the early bird gets the worm” comes to mind. There is a lot of benefit that comes from completing your event research early and determining which shows you want to attend long before registration opens. If you’ve done the legwork and gotten any approvals needed for an event, be among the first to register. This will ensure that you get booth space in a prime location.
Visit Shows as a Guest Before Exhibiting
Keep in mind, many shows open registration during the event the year before. If you are considering exhibiting at an event, many experts recommend attending that event as a guest the year prior to get a feel for the audience, exhibitors and likelihood of your company succeeding at that event. No amount of research or investigation can account for the first-hand experience you will gain from attending.
Diversify Your Booth Staff
If at all possible, try to diversify your booth staff. Include a variety of ages, genders and ethnicities. This will encourage a wider range of attendees to stop in for a conversation. According to Forbes, “Diversity brings value to a company through its connections to a broader range of customers and clients.”
Be a Speaker
Do you have someone on your team who is a great speaker? Consider having them apply to speak at the event. These types of opportunities usually do not cost the speaker anything, offer a great way to highlight your company as a thought leader and provide attendees with additional (and very memorable) value.
Make Good Use of Your “Off” Time
You know your team will be making contacts during exhibit hours, but consider having them schedule breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings to take some of those key relationships to the next level. A conversation over a meal is instantly more relaxed and can foster a higher level of trust and understanding.
Ensure Streamlined Lead Retrieval Across All Events
Trade shows and conferences usually offer clunky barcode scanners or lead capture apps with limited functionality. Instead of asking your team to familiarize themselves with new technology at each event, consider finding a single solution that you can use across all of your events. Event lead management is one of the most important parts of your trade show strategy.
Collect Media Contact Info and Make Connections
The number of qualified leads collected might be your No. 1 measurement for event success but don’t forget about the value of exposure, PR and relationship building. The value is harder to track but it is equally as important.
Enlist the Help of Social Media
Make sure you find out the event hashtag and use it! During one of your team meetings prior to the event, have your team help you brainstorm 10 reasons why someone would want to stop by your booth. Then, over the course of the weeks leading up to the event, post those and include the event hashtag. During the event, “go live” with product demonstrations and selfies at your booth. Post-show, show your gratitude for the community welcoming you with open arms (and take the chance to brag a little).
Ensure Proper ROI Tracking
Make sure you have the technology in place to be able to accurately track your ROI. If you aren’t tracking that data, you will not be able to make educated decisions about your event budget going forward. This information is critical to any future event success. Find a solution that can report on who captured the most leads, average engagement score, cost per lead and more.