Tradeshow Marketing

Our staff absolutely rocked the tradeshows this fall! 15 tradeshows, expos or events in August, September and October! One gal did three in one week! I logged in my time at a freshman orientation, an absolutely dead bus tour tradeshow and TEAMS. Our strategy was to be seen anywhere and everywhere and gather all the leads and attendance lists we could.

We had the updated booth display. Some newly printed materials. And some ‘trinkets and trash’. But did we have the absolute best tradeshow marketing plan including pre and post? Even us experienced tradeshow marketers need a refresher from time to time! The top five tradeshow marketing strategies (or tips) – December’s Five @ 5:

1. Prepare 3 to 6 engaging questions before the show. I failed at this one! I tend to lean too heavily on my ‘gift of gab’ and think I can just wing it. A couple of times I could have used some prepared questions – questions that stimulate thought and encourage conversation. Open ended questions – who, what, where, when, why or how. Avoid the trite questions though – “Can I help you?”, “How are you doing today?” or “Are you enjoying the show?”

2. Initiate pre-show promotions. Nearly every attendee list is available ahead of the show. Go ahead and purchase the list and spend the money on a postcard announcing you’ll be there. Provide an incentive for people to visit the booth and leave contact information. I-pads were the hot item this year but one booth gave out a $25 gift card to Macy’s. It doesn’t always have to be flashy!

3. Set measurable goals for the show. How many “leads” do you reasonably think you can come back with? “Hot lead” or “cold lead”? Think you can get an RFP? Ours – right or wrong – again was exposure, exposure and the attendee list so we could come back, populate the database and work the list. We were pleasantly surprised to get RFPs, site visits and a booked piece of business from a show!

4. The Don’ts! Don’t sit, read, eat or drink in the booth. Don’t use the telephone while visitors are around. Don’t leave the booth unattended. Don’t use inappropriate language or complain about the show or about being at the show. Don’t wear new shoes or high heels.

5. The Booth Survival Kit. Aspirin, eye drops, antacid, breathmints, water and bandages. Most shows have a lot of noise and you’ll likely get a headache. Dust flies about and the carpet shag can wear on your eyes (especially if you wear contacts like I do!) Expo hall food sucks and you’ll need the antacid. Breathmints and water really don’t need an explanation and bandages are in every survival kit!

Finally, there’s always an 80/20 rule and there’s one for tradeshows – listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time! Here’s to successful tradeshow marketing! Short time off then PCMA, RCMA and all the winter travel shows right around the corner!

(Originally posted December 2010)

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