It’s Trade Show Season; this year, you want your marketing dollars to count. From experience, you know that generating qualified leads at a Trade Show isn’t accomplished from just showing up. So what are the must-do’s when planning for an event?

Here’s our Trade Show planning experience boiled down to 4 golden rules:

Rule #1: Define the purpose for attending

While the purpose may seem simple; to promote your brand and generate leads for sales opportunities, this is a generalization. Generalizing your purpose may lead to a dangerous “do-it-all” approach that rarely accomplishes anything. Here are some reasons for attending to consider:

  • To increase awareness of your product or industry
  • To build awareness for your brand and solidify your reputation
  • To introduce a new product to your existing lineup
  • To seek potential partnerships
  • To generate new leads and win customers

Know your purpose, then create a plan to that will help you to achieve this goal.

Rule #2: Create a buzz… before you go

Oftentimes, too much emphasis is put on what you do at the show, and very little is put into what you do before it. Creating a buzz for your upcoming exhibit is an important part of Trade Show planning. To create this buzz, you first need to know who your audience this; this includes the list of show attendees (many shows provide this list in advance), your own contacts, and even current customers. Making sure your audience knows you’ll be at the show helps to maximize your exposure.

You know your audience, now what about the buzz?

Here is a great step-by-step method that lets your audience know you’ll be at the next Trade Show:

  • Create a story leading up to the show on Facebook
  • Give your story a hashtag, and use it alongside the show’s official hashtag
  • Use Twitter and LinkedIn to get the word out
  • As the word gets out on social media, make sure there is a call-to-action that engages people to click
  • Create a landing page that your audience will see when they click your call-to-action, with an offer that educates and commits the audience to visit your booth at the show
  • Track and measure the engagement on your landing page

Here are two more great tips to create awareness:

  • Update your email signature to say you will be attending the show
  • Update your out of office message during the show to let people know you are there

Create the buzz before you go to ensure buzz around your booth when you’re there!

Rule #3: Be seen at the show

At the show, make sure you’ve done everything you can to be seen. Most of the time, Trade Shows become a vast sea of promoters; visitors can’t differentiate what’s important to them.

Here are some tips that help you get seen:

  • Try to become an official speaker at the show to talk about your industry
  • Location, location, location! Make sure you study the show map, consider the traffic flow, and choose a location that will not be missed
  • Have the right team there, and the right amount of them
  • Look sharp, unified, and professional
  • Have inviting interactive space with places to sit
  • Market your exhibit hashtag and promote using QR codes
  • Offer an incentive in order to collect data and information
  • Make detailed notes of conversations with hot leads
  • Trade leads with other vendors at show

When you are seen and heard at a show, you greatly improve the possibility of being remembered!

Rule #4: Do a post-show follow up

Most would think that this is an obvious rule, yet statistics show that 80% of trade show exhibitors don’t follow up on the leads generated at shows. Don’t be part of the crowd! Here are some ways to make following up easy:

  • Designate a champion. Assign one Account Executive to follow up with the leads generated from the show
  • Leverage technology and send a “Thank You” note that is personalized at the end of each Trade Show day
  • Send requested information in a timely manner! Don’t wait months to send the information. By then, your leads will have already made a purchasing decision
  • Bottom line: do what you said you would do!

These 4 Golden Rules for a really successful trade show will make the entire trade show planning process easier. Follow them, and you will get you the results you are looking for. If you especially like one of our rules, or think we missed one, we’d love to hear from you!