Take the Stress Out of Trade Shows
Rob Seas Content Strategist/Copywriter
In terms of bang-for-the-buck, few marketing spends can match industry trade shows and conferences. Across diverse industries, they offer businesses a valuable opportunity to engage new prospects, solidify relationships with existing customers, launch new products, increase brand awareness and capture and qualify leads.
In a post-pandemic world, these live events should return as a vital part of your annual marketing plans. Where else can you expect to meet dozens or more interested, curious prospects looking for solutions like yours under one roof? It’s also an opportunity to compare and contrast your offerings against competitors and answer questions directly.
Maybe you didn’t miss the stress and last-minute surprises of managing all the details such as booth location, travel arrangements, deliveries, scheduling, etc. If you secretly rejoiced that trade shows were off the table the past two years, now is the time to take a fresh look at how they can help your business and, more importantly, how to take the stress out going forward.
The maxim “prior planning prevents poor performance” could have been coined specifically to address failures at trade shows and conferences. These events should be a carefully planned component of your broader marketing strategy for the fiscal year. Fortunately, the dates and locations for trade shows and conferences are typically set more than a year in advance, allowing substantial lead time to define success and integrate the show with all the other marketing campaigns and initiatives you have planned. In fact, there are multiple advantages to registering early including potential discounts, prime locations and other perks.
By locking in a trade show or conference date early, you also give your business a target date to work toward and build momentum around. Knowing the events you’ll attend well in advance leaves room to engage with customers prior to the date on social media and elsewhere. For example, knowing the keynote themes of a particular show a year or more beforehand allows you to create collateral content such as white papers or case studies that support those themes and lend your business credibility.
Anticipate What Could Go Wrong
Something always goes wrong, but you can plan for that! Below are some common trade show disasters along with ideas on how to prevent and recover from them. Just knowing you have a solid plan in place goes a long way toward reducing last-minute stress.
Your Industry Expert Cancels
Maybe you enlisted an industry expert to appear at your booth or to participate in breakout sessions. If you did your marketing well, show attendees have planned their schedule around your event and any cancellations will reflect poorly on your brand.
If you’re going to invest in putting a spotlight on a particular presenter as part of your show plans, make sure you have a back-up on standby. You should also have a lawyer draft a simple contract if possible to define the recourse for no-shows and discourage cancellations.
You’re not getting any traffic at your booth or event
There’s nothing worse than an empty trade show booth that’s not drawing any interest or foot traffic. Today’s trade shows can be downright competitive, and you need to stand out with meaningful and attractive concepts and events.
Research typical attendees as well as trade show sponsors to gauge what their pain points and interests might be. Post on social media and your website about your plans to attend an upcoming trade show to build interest and momentum leading up to the show. You can even collect RSVPs to get a sense of whether you’re generating sufficient interest.
You’re getting too much traffic at your booth or your event is oversold
Too much interest is a better problem to have but can also create a negative impression of your brand if not managed properly. Make sure to purchase a large enough booth space to accommodate all your display items and staff. If your booth is cluttered and overcrowded, show attendees will often move on rather than wait for an opening. Also, consider hiring local temps to help with greeting guests, setting up and maintaining displays, managing traffic flow and gathering contact information.
Expect the unexpected
You can usually count on bad weather, transit issues, late shipments and bad Wi-Fi to disrupt your trade show plans. Make backup plans to handle these common problems and be prepared to improvise if needed to address issues such as exhibits lost in transit, a damaged graphic or a key staffer getting ill. Use social media and your website to keep trade show attendees up-to-date on any challenges or changes of plan.
While trade shows are back to stay, you can avoid the familiar stress of planning, managing and executing them. All you need to do is plan well in advance and put in place some back up plans and contingencies to ensure these important marketing events showcase your brand and company in the best possible light.
Need help getting ready to take on trade shows again? Take the stress out by working with our creative team to create trade show collateral that will take your brand to the next level. Contact us today!
It all began with a father-son fly-fishing trip at 16 years old, and Rob was hooked on Montana. Growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, it took a little while for him to make his way here for good. But in the meantime, he graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Magazine Journalism, held a variety of editorial positions across the country and worked as a freelance web developer for companies large and small, ranging from startups to international corporations like Visa, The Nature Conservancy, and Levi Strauss & Co.
He still loves to fish – and hunt, work magic in the kitchen… and he’s an artist. All of this experience, worldliness and creativity means that Rob is an incredible Kinetic talent and invaluable asset to the team and our clients.Read more about Rob