Tis the season for tradeshows.
Fall is known for many things: the turning color of the leaves, school starting back up for the year, and tradeshows. “What? Tradeshows?” If tradeshows aren’t on your agenda for the next couple of months, feel free to log off now and go down a cool click-bait tunnel--you can come back and read this in the Spring or Summer when it hits your industry. But if you know just what I’m talking about, read on.
Tradeshows are one of the biggest marketing expenses for most small- to medium-sized brands (the big guys have monster media buys to deal with that may outrank shows). Yet most companies find tradeshows abhorrent—or at least tedious.
They hate spending the money on a booth.
They hate forcing their sales people out to convention centers.
And they hate the large expense for seemingly small results.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Afterall, tradeshows are your main opportunity to connect with mass groupings of your prospects all in one place. Where else can you pop into the hotel lobby for drinks after work and find five to fifteen of your prospects waiting for you to buy them drinks?
You just have to remember why you are there: networking. Tradeshows are all about establishing your brand presence and solidifying relationships.
Your clients can likely buy a product similar to yours in a dozen different ways from websites, retailers or sales reps around the country. Why they come to you, why they continue to buy your product, and why they refer you to others is about your brand.
And that is where tradeshows excel.
Pre-warm the oven
Tradeshows don’t start on day one at the conference center. Successful tradeshow marketing begins a month or two prior to the show. Preshow messaging in terms of focused emails, direct mail, and layered calling are all key to your booth’s success. Your booth should be exciting enough to draw people in, but having an appointment on the books driving people to your aisle is even better. Spend the time upfront and reap the success at the show.
Let’s talk about your booth: Looks Matter
Is your brand message cohesive? Obvious? And its draw fully apparent to passers-by?
Tradeshows are all about grabbing prospects’ attention and pulling them in at first glance. How does your booth look compared to your competition? Does it gain attention in a good way? Does it stand out? Does your message resonate? Is it memorable? And sadly, yes, does it follow convention floor or show rules?
When you look at your graphics, do you see your brand or a hodge-podge of product lines and photos with no clear focus. You don’t have to spend excessively. But traffic flow, proper storage, and function make a difference. So, too, do clear graphics and collateral.
If your booth is tired, dated, or poorly organized—that is your brand message. Prospects won’t stop, they’ll be confused, or worse: they’ll remember you negatively.
Staff Focus and Energy is Key
Once you get a prospect’s attention, what do you have in store for them in your booth? Be fun, lively, interact. Your reps should have energy. They should have a goal with every interaction. There should be talking points and a reason for each interaction (and they should never be sitting in chairs looking at their phone.) Your prospect, now your lead, should remember you. They should walk out of your booth remembering why they spoke with you and knowing what will happen next. Then, when you call to close the sale, they’ll welcome that call.
Bring on the bling.
Oftentimes a tradeshow isn’t about a product launch—but rather about maintaining market status. Not able to offer a show special or new product that will wow attendees? Instead provide some great branded item that your prospect wants to wear on the show floor. Have it be bold, attention getting, and fun or cool enough that other attendees want to wear or own it, too. A bottomless mug with your logo that can be refilled for premium coffee drinks (or margaritas) all over the center. Flashing LED badge holder with your logo in shocking pink or covered with bling? How about a travel pillow for the way home? These items will walk the floor for you advertising your brand to attendees everywhere.
Don’t forget the follow through.
Your prospect came to see you at the right day and time during the show. They walked into your booth and were impressed by your staff. They went home with a great collateral piece that they read on the plane while snuggling with your travel pillow. What now? Reps will be tired upon returning to the office—but now is not the time to take a break. You need a detailed plan for following up on each prospect. Again, depending on your staff and their skills, this is the time to incorporate messaged, templated emails, direct mail or phone calls to keep people in the queue until the sale can close.
Don’t let the close of the sale be the end of the experience. Create a user experience that promotes brand interaction with social media. Create a loyalty program. Create a referral program.
BRANDED is your partner for creating a tradeshow experience that wows management and prospects. Working within your budget, we can help design your booth, create pre- and post-show follow-up messages, and help with an online presence that draws people in and creates a lasting impression. Using a marketing partner, like BRANDED, will result in an experience that is clear, focused, and effective.
Contact BRANDED today to discuss your tradeshow plans and how we may be able to help.