8 Simple Steps for a Successful Trade Show Program
It can be difficult to determine exactly how successful a trade show is by any single metric.
Every business has different objectives, but this list will give you eight steps for having the most successful exhibit possible.
#1 Put the Right People in Charge
Not every trade show is successful. Most often, this is because the business either doesn’t have experienced personnel running the booth, or they place the wrong people in charge of the marketing. Pick the right employees to run the show, and you should be on the fast track for success!
#2 Determine What Makes a Successful Event
Every company desires to get something different out of their trade show. Ask yourself whether you want to acquire new customers or leads through direct marketing and product sampling, or perhaps you think that word of mouth and social media exposure is a more appropriate objective.
#3 Think About What Happens After the Show
The money is always in the follow up! How are you going to keep your business and booth display in the minds of the consumers in the days and weeks after the trade show? A one-off spectacle is a waste of resources; always decide whether you are going to follow-up through allowing leads to use sales discounts, by sending them emails, targeted advertising, phone calls, or other means.
#4 Compare Your Trade Show to Others in the Past
Trade show programs are a continuous process. Every event should build off the previous one, evaluating the positives and the negatives of the performance and improving each time you build your next exhibit. This principle applies to any part of your business plan, but it is especially important for trade shows because of the time and money invested in putting them on.
#5 Create an Algorithm or Mathematical Determinant of Financial Gain
Trade shows have so many moving parts and dramatically different methods of selling that it can be tricky to figure out how to put a number on profits directly initiated by the show. Get creative in figuring out how many dollars come from each part of the exhibit. If you are a furniture company, and you give out free samples of the new wood that is being used in your chairs, see if sales spike after the show. Subtract the money spent on inventory from the sales on chairs two weeks later, and you can get some semblance of a profit margin.
#6 Use Great Customer Service People
Salespeople are your biggest asset throughout your event. Poor customer service will turn potential leads the other way, so make sure your best folks are interacting with the show-goers so that they are more likely to turn into long-time buyers. There are many contacts at trade shows, but the first one needs to be a friendly greeting!
#7 Make Sure Extraneous Expenses are Accounted For
There are a lot of other budgeting materials besides just what’s on the trade show floor. The cost of hotels, airfare, storing your products between events, and so much more add to the money spent to put on a successful booth. Make sure your calculations are airtight, so you don’t blame any money losses on something else from the show.
#8 Keep Your Team Organized
Don’t let your different team members step on each other’s toes. Marketing people should be the ones planning the show, and what happens next, salespeople should be on the front lines with the potential leads, and the higher-ups should be making decisions about the finances and the bottom line as it relates to the show.
Plan Out Everything
Because trade shows are such multifaceted events, the most important thing you can do to become a success is to think about every part of the event from start to finish, and what is going to happen after the show and before the next one. If you miss any part of the operation, there is a chance you will be playing catch up down the road, so be aware and plan ahead!
DJ Heckes, Author