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6 Trade Show Planning Secrets That Maximize Your Return on Investment

Anyone heavily involved and invested in exhibiting at trade shows knows that trade show planning isn’t only a costly business but also a time-consuming one.

Consequently, events and marketing managers across numerous industries understand the importance of maximizing their investment return. 

In fact, the Center for Exhibition and Industry Research (CEIR) found that 64%+ marketing managers recognize that trade shows are a highly effective marketing opportunity. 

Whether you’re brand-new to trade shows or an old hand, we’re revealing a few of our trade show planning secrets. There’s a lot to cover so let’s dive in!

1. Trade Show Planning Basics

Ideally, your trade show planning should start a year ahead. This gives you ample time to determine which shows you’ll attend. At this point, you can also define your success objectives, i.e., your sales, prospects, and investment targets.

It may also be the case that you’re planning to recruit new employees at trade shows, in which case this is also the time to set recruitment-related targets.  

Don’t forget to check out your existing exhibition stands and equipment. You’ll need to assess whether you’ll need to modify or upgrade them or even start from scratch. 

2. Have a Marketing Strategy

Divide your marketing plan into pre and post-show marketing. You need to give your target audience good reasons to visit your exhibition stand and meet with you beforehand.

You can easily drum up some interest via social media, newsletters, ads, and even phone calls.

It’s also worth enticing prospects with free giveaways and news of any special features your stand may have – for instance, virtual reality displays, competitions, free products and/or services, and so on. 

Pro Tip: Don’t just give freebies away for the sake of it, make sure they’re relevant to your overall brand strategy. 

Don’t forget to find out which media are attending so that you can send press information about your company, ahead of the trade show itself.

3. Choose Your Exhibit Builder

Never leave this to the last minute. Talk with them about stand layout ideas and any interactive event software that you need. Software typically will help you track and grade any sales leads, and interest levels for future follow up. 

You can also talk to your exhibit builder about factoring in social distancing to your booth design. By optimizing your exhibit booth, you stand a better chance of attracting new visitors and sales prospects, as well as existing customers.

If you work with an experienced exhibit design company, you’re helping yourself achieve a better ROI.  

4. Use First-Rate Event Software

Embrace the advantages that event technology can bring to your trade show planning and stand. However, it’s crucial to plan this with your chosen exhibit builder so that you can test and implement your software before the trade show itself. 

Ideally, you’re looking at software that allows you to capture data from your interactions and integrates with your marketing and event technology. The point is to curate your incoming and existing leads for future follow-up and closing a sale.

5. Attract Visitors to Your Booth

It’s essential to understand precisely why someone might come to a trade show you’re attending. Research shows that most (92%) attend to see new products and services, while 72% of exhibitors attract new sales leads. 

Ideally, your sales and marketing strategy will work towards attracting that 92%. There’s no reason why you can’t be bold with your ideas, so long as they don’t detract from your overall brand messages and goals to attract new leads and sales. 

Try to incorporate interactive elements and giveaways, a competition or raffle, touch screens, and so on. 

Technology may be necessary, but so are the right staff. Choose your best and friendliest team members that won’t shy away from approaching passers-by. Choosing a strong team will help you generate those all-important leads you crave. 

Lastly, structure your offer, book professional guest speakers to your booth as another way of enticing prospects.

You could also organize a trade show after-party or reception where your potential leads can network with one another. It’s another opportunity for you and your team to do some further lead generation.

6. The Follow-Up

Once you’ve attracted people to your booth, you have to follow those leads up. Structure your days to build in time to send follow up emails soon after the first engagement.

Try to allow for potential meetings on the tradeshow floor, too, during quieter exhibiting periods.

It’s essential that you follow up fast. Create a schedule ahead of the trade show and ensure your email follow-ups have a photo of your booth to job people’s memories. Also, track your leads, so you can track your customers’ journey from stand to sale.  

While it’s essential to give everyone excellent customer service, you should prioritize your leads. Don’t waste time on people who are just there for fun.

Reach out to the most viable leads, and don’t let too much time pass between your trade show and your follow up. You don’t want to give your prospects time to forget about you. 

Be The Main Event

Now we’ve let you in on some of our trade show planning secrets; you can use them to maximize your return on investment.

If you’d like more trade show planning gems, contact us for more information on making the most of your trade show investment. Our friendly team is always happy to help. Speak soon!

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