Live events like trade shows and conferences aren’t just an excuse to get out of the office and to shake some hands. They can be some of the most valuable marketing opportunities of your business year, giving you the opportunity to meet a congregation of potential leads and to make an appearance that gives your brand visibility and legitimacy. However, if you’re not prepared, it’s hard to make anything of worth come out of them. So, here are a few tips on how to make sure you get a better deal out of trade shows.
Build the hype
You don’t want to suddenly appear, unanticipated, at a trade show, like you just puffed out of thin air. You want people to expect you, to know you’ll be there, and to look forward to meeting you. While new, organic meetings do happen and are fantastic opportunities, you can generate a buzz by marketing your attendance ahead of time. Not only can you broadcast your attendance, but you can join in the marketing hype of the organizers, asking them to send you their marketing materials and asking them to highlight your attendance, or simply share their social content with your own reply comment. Do reach out to other attendees to signal boost one another, as well.
Although trade shows are about the meetings and conversations you have during them, there’s no denying that appearances play a large role in your success. If you appear with a simple table and a banner above you, you’re not going to stand out very much compared to the three-dimensional booth with mood lighting and digital displays behind you. Your trade show booth is an investment that you should be taking from event to event, so be willing to allocate something of a budget to it. The most regular attendees are going to be putting on quite a display, so a bespoke design that gives you the perfect arena to highlight your products or feature the advantages of your services can help you compete for attention.
Prepare a team, not a presentation
Unless you or a member of your team are a speaker at some event during the trade show, you are not going to be on a platform delivering a pitch one-sidedly to an audience. You’re going to get your best results when you actually engage with them in a one-on-one conversation. You and whatever team members you’re bringing should prepare some list of features or talking points to help you further convert attendees, but listening is the most important skill of all. Not only does it help you adapt your pitch on the fly to the needs and circumstances of those that you’re talking to but it delivers some useful insights on the demographics of your market.
Leave an impression
Hopefully, you’re going to leave a good impression through the conversations that you have during the trade show, but it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder that the attendees can take with them. The right choice of swag does truly make a difference and there are different approaches to take. Some attendees bring branded foods or cups to serve coffee in, which has a sensory appeal, but focusing on the practical is always a good idea. Stress balls, USB pens, and regular pens are very common, so try and focus on more unique ideas like custom car fresheners with your branding on them. The more likely the person is to look at the swag and the more space it has to feature your branding and contact details, the better a potential giveaway that it is.
Don’t forget to follow up
Your swag is going to help attendees to remember to get in touch or check your website whenever they look at it, but you should make sure that you’re doing your part to build a bridge between you and them, as well. This includes the all-important follow-up email after a trade show. Send emails to those with the highest potential of converting, those who actually engaged, asked about the products and services and so on, and don’t just send them a template. Refer to the conversation you had with them, send them articles or resources that can lend clarification to points you made, and make sure to end with an invitation or call-to-action, whether it’s to check out a part of the site or to set up a meeting.
When done right, trade shows offer you a platform, a lead building opportunity, and the chance to build some real insight into not just your customers but the industry landscape. With the tips above, they can become a key part of your marketing calendar year.