For many businesses, trade shows act as an effective lead-generation tactic that can help build key industry relationships. However, when businesses poorly plan their trade show appearances, there’s a chance they could miss out on such benefits, costing them time and money.
To ensure your business is prepared the next time you attend a trade show, keep in mind the following best practices:
- Choose wisely. The first step—and arguably the most important—is to carefully pick which trade show you want to attend. Conduct as much research as possible and choose the trade show that makes the most sense based on your budget, trade show contract terms, etc. Registering in advance can also help you save money. If possible, all of this should be done about 12 months prior to the show.
- Determine objectives and exhibits. Getting a grasp on what your goals are for the trade show will dictate the messaging of your exhibit. Consider any technology or signage you will need at your booth to support your objectives and coordinate with the appropriate vendors. Completing this step at least six months in advance is critical.
- Focus on logistics. The simple aspects of trade show planning can be the easiest to overlook. About four months prior to the show, ensure that you have chosen and informed the staff that will be attending. At this point, you should have your booth floor plan figured out and any travel or lodging needs finalized. Communicating your attendance to your clients and the general public can be done around this time as well.
- Scope out the competition. Many businesses that attend trade shows never take the time to see what competitors are presenting. When you first arrive at the show, map out the booths worth visiting. In addition, you should keep any marketing literature given to you by salespeople, as it can give you insight into other businesses’ messaging.
- Follow up. After the show is over, the real lead generation begins. Gather up all of the contact information you collected from the show and sort leads by viability.
In general, it’s important to remind employees that attending trade shows isn’t a vacation; it’s work. Taking the benefits of the show seriously and planning appropriately will ensure that your business gets the most out of the experience.
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