With the fragile state of the market today, it is imperative that companies work harder to ensure that their tradeshow dollars deliver solid return. Companies are beginning to compete more for the attention of the attendees instead of sticking with the “Build a Booth and They will Come” attitude.
The first step is realizing that trade shows should function as an integrated part of your marketing plan and should not be expected to function on their own. One of the number one ways that the law community interacts with brands today is in exhibit halls, and yet often companies neglect to integrate their branding and communication strategy with their trade show plans. Booth design and graphics, collateral, messaging, giveaways and booth presentations should all be integrated with the brand identity you have built through your advertising and corporate identity programs. Carry this through to your pre- and post-show promotions as well as onsite sponsorships and you will have a well-rounded trade show plan that will add to your marketing plan.
Do you have a pre-show strategy to draw traffic to your booth? There are many ways to attract attendees to your booth before the show even begins. Examples of these are direct mail campaigns, email and telemarketing campaigns, “register to win” programs and supplying free passes to your existing clients. Once again, make sure whatever avenue you choose, it matches your branding and strategy for the show. For example, if you send a pre-show mailer, make sure it matches the graphics on your booth.
Sponsorships can also be an excellent way to increase your participation at a show and draw traffic to your booth. Usually, there are sponsorships at all price levels so you should be able to find one that will help you achieve your goals. When selecting a sponsorship, call upon your show representative. They can inform you of your options and help you decide what might best help you meet your objectives, although remember that it is their job to sell sponsorships first and foremost. When it comes right down to it, use your own best judgment. A $1,000 sponsorship that puts your logo on 1,000 napkins is probably not going to be worth the investment!
Since your booth staff can determine the success or failure of your entire tradeshow program, make sure you have clearly communicated your plan and goals for the show. Also make sure your staff is delivering the correct message to the attendees. This sounds obvious, but all too often companies assign employees to work the booth and they will not let you know if they are unsure of what to communicate. Listen to their delivery to an attendee and see if you need to work with them more.
Of all the things you can do to improve your trade show return, adding or improving your post-show follow-up program might very well yield the most results. It is all too common for an attendee who registered at a company’s booth to never receive a follow-up call. Are you making sure your staff follows up on every lead you worked so hard to get?