Time to Trade In Your Trade Show Strategy

June 11th, 2015 Written by

Trade Shows can be a tremendous vehicle for Challenger Brands to launch product lines, connect with prospects, engage with current customers, evaluate the competitive landscape, network with peers and, of course, sell. Trade Shows offer that perfect marketing storm of having your customers and prospects all together in one place at one time allowing you to tell your story to the right people in an environment tailor-made for decision-making. So, why aren’t you selling more at these corporate farmers markets?

For most Challenger Brands, it is sufficient to simply be in the parade. A 10’ x 10’ booth, nice colorful banner hanging on the back curtain, 6-foot card table smartly draped with a branded tablecloth, one fishbowl stuffed with Halloween candy, a second fishbowl to collect business cards from passers-by, all manned by four of your brightest sales and marketing people in their light blue oxford shirts with your logo freshly embroidered above the left pocket. Yep, you’re marching along with everyone else.

This is not a Trade Show strategy, this is a dreary mandate from upper management that you must have a presence at the show. And let’s not forget the costs associated with being there. You could be out-of-pocket thousands of dollars before you even sit down at your card table. Challenger Brands cannot afford to simply be at the Show; they need to maximize their investment and stand out at the Show. So, we’ve developed a three-step approach to Trade Show Marketing that connects with your prospect and drives them to action.

Step 1 – Pre-Show Strategy

Establish your plan. What do you want to achieve (objectives/goals), with whom do you want to connect (identify/clarify your target) and what do you want them to do (call to action)? Don’t wait until the Show to meet with these prospects, reach out to them in advance. Most Trade Shows allow participants access to the attendee list; ideal for a pre-show email blast setting your prospect up for what they can expect when visiting your booth.

One of our favorite Trade Show efforts surrounds an aviation client who wanted to generate excitement at their booth and attract as many attendees as possible. We identified the most viable prospects and sent them a beautifully packaged, shiny, branded remote-control helicopter. One problem, though; the parcel was missing the controller. Instead, the package included an invitation to stop by the client’s booth at the upcoming Trade Show to pick-up their controller and meet the team.

Step 2 – In-Show Strategy

We advise against passively sitting at your table and waiting for folks to happen by. Alternatively, we suggest attracting an audience for a series of live presentations of your product or service within the confines of your booth. Use a professional presenter to deliver your story in a concise 5-10 minute audio/video package on a regularly scheduled basis (perhaps every hour on the hour). Use your staff to answer questions and conduct meetings following each presentation. Additionally, most professional presenters also serve as “carnival barkers” to attract a crowd prior to each mini-performance. The crowd can be more important than the presentation itself, as everyone will want to know what’s going on over at your booth.

Step 3 – Post-Show Strategy

Your Trade Show Strategy cannot end once the Show is over. Actually, this is when the selling begins. Let’s put all of that effort gathering an audience to work for us by following up with all of our attendees via email and phone calls. In the case of our aviation client who sent out the helicopter, now is when we send out a fresh set of batteries along with an invitation to meet with our team.

Challenger Brands love Trade Shows as long as they have a strategic plan in place to take advantage of the opportunity. If you could use some help developing a Trade Show strategy, reach out to us at: editor@gumas.com.

Until next time…

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