Does tradeshow marketing work?

In the cyber age of smart phones, facebook, email, and twitter, does it make sense to participate in tradeshows?  My thought is yes, it does make sense.

There are still plenty of people who look for face to face interaction, and a chance to actually see and touch products.

Tradeshow marketing gives an exhibitor the opportunity to meet with hundreds of potential customers.  Attendees can already be classified as motivated prospects! 

Success though, is not guaranteed.  The following three keys can greatly increase your chances for a successful show.

Key #1:  PLAN

1.  Figure out what you want to accomplish and set goals for the show.  How many people do you want to meet?  Are you looking to get orders at the show, or just creating visibility for a new product?  Write down your goals so you can measure your effectiveness.

2.  Make a checklist so you don’t forget any important details.  This might include things like:  get a booth space, design the booth, determine if any collateral materials need to be developed and ordered, contact current customers to let them know you’ll be in the show.

3.  Create a timeline with deadlines so that you don’t end up with unnecessary emergencies.  If you wait until the last minute, the odds are high that something important will have been overlooked.

4.  Promote the tradeshow!  Let people know you’ll be there.  Here’s where email and social media can be very helpful as well as postcards, and phone calls.

5.  Decide on a tradeshow giveaway.  It should be something that helps attract prospects to your booth, and once back home, reminds them who you are and how to contact you.

6.  After the show, have a debriefing session to determine what things you did worked, and what did not.  Brainstorm ideas you may want to incorporate into your next show based on this show’s results.  It’s important not to wait to do this. 

Key #2:  QUALIFY

Hopefully you will have a lot of traffic through your booth.  Definitely be friendly and greet everyone, but if you have a chance to have a conversation beyond that, use it to qualify the prospect.  Ask a few questions that will help you determine if they are likely to become a customer.  The question could be as simple as, are you in the market for our product or service? 

If it seems unlikely that the prospect will convert to a customer, keep the conversation short and move on to the next prospect.  There are only so many hours in a day – use as much of them as you can talking to qualified prospects.

Key #3:  FOLLOW UP

This may seem like common sense, but it is very easy to slack on this most important step.  You come back from the show, you’re behind on your regular work, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed.  You reason that you’ve handed out business cards and tradeshow promotional products – the customer can call you when they’re ready. 

But – what you need to keep in mind is that your potential customer is going through exactly the same thing!  They come back, they’re behind on their regular work, and they have a box filled with business cards and assorted promotional products they’ve picked up from each booth. 

So here’s what you do.  Maybe wait two or three days, for them to settle down a bit, and then make a follow up phone call.  If you’ve had a chance to write some notes regarding each prospect, you can say something that helps them know that you remember who they are.   And – don’t stop with one call.  Depending on interest, you may follow up again in a week, a month, or some other agreed upon timeframe.

Participating in a tradeshow takes time and money.  Following the advice above will help you to increase the return on your tradeshow marketing dollars.

What should I give away?

This is an important question and one I’ll be addressing in our next post.

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Knowledge is Power!

I hope you found this information useful.  Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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