It never truly surprises me when I roam the floor at a trade show or conference how little creative thought is given to the trade show experience. When I talk to clients, it seems almost “a given” that “just being there and being seen will be enough.” But ask yourself: if you’ve done trade shows for your company before and you walk away with a few crumbs of deals or “lots of business cards,” have you really gotten all you can from being there?
I say, “absolutely not.”
A trade show is not just about showing up (all apologies to Woody Allen). Ya gotta engage.
OK – woah – that’s a WHOLE different thing. I got the booth set up, I got a fishbowl for business cards and we’re showing our software. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
Here are five key points to consider when building your trade show experience:
1. Who’s the person or persons (your Ideal Client) you want to engage with? This will drive the choice of which shows or conferences will suit you best. Better to go to a smaller show that has 80-100% of your target audience rather than a very large, famous show that will force you to compete with hundreds of vendors for a smaller percentage of your target audience.
2. What’s your goal at the show? Collect emails for an email marketing campaign? Release a new product/service? Get media attention or venture capital interest? Get leads for sales? Drive interaction with your software? You may have two or three goals for a show but this decision is critical to your engagement choice. Decide this second.
3. What’s the interaction? How will you draw people to your booth (or to your speech)? What will allow you to have a crowd at your booth during the entire show, drawing the envy of all vendors in your vicinity? The interaction – the thing you do to engage that target audience – is the key to it all. Don’t sit back on this one — or you’re wasting your money by attending the trade show at all.
4. What’s your plan for media outreach? If you’re going to use the show as a platform to make some news, think through the process first. Sending a release and showing up at the media “meet and greet” will not cut it – not if you truly want to make a splash and get some juice for your company.
5. How are you going to use social media or technology or video at the event? These tools change and get hipper by the day. Employing these tools strategically — meaning the way you use the tools is of “irresistible interest” to your target — will pay you back many fold as you work to meet your goal at the show.
OK – that’s an overview of the process you should be putting yourself through to really get the most out of a trade show or conference. Got questions? Let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org