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June 12, 2009 / jasonpinto

Hindsight Creepin’ on Me

There are a lot of marketing activities I participate in that leave me with this feeling —- “oh! How did we not think of that initially! The effort would have gone so much better”.  This feeling seems to come no matter how low or high our ROI and response rate might be.

One marketing activity that truly helps deliver this feeling is a trade show. Trade shows typically require planning for many months in advance. For some of the big ones, it’s a year+. They certainly can produce good leads for a company. But I think here is why they leave you just short of feeling completely satisfied:

 – They are normally a big investment in the $$ department (booth space, travel, hotels, dining, entertaining guests, etc) 

 – They expose you to your competition (you might even be feet away from their booth, and thus, stare at their setup and traffic all day!)

 – You see a lot of opportunities. Each person that comes by your booth could be a potential client. Thus, the collateral you have, the screen presentations, etc., all become more vitally important. And then of course, will the magic words come out of your mouth?

Trade shows can also be tiring. You might stand, smile, and talk for 8 hours straight at the booth. That can do funny things to a human.

The bottom line is – during the busy times and the free times, ideas-on-how-to-do-things-better will come to your mind!

So, since I just returned from a trade show this week, I’ve decided to make a list… (Maybe it will help you in your marketing efforts as well.)

What I will do better at my next trade show

  • Bring a Thank You gift for the show organizers
    If it’s a huge show, there may be a hundred “organizers”. But no matter what, there are probably 2-3 people that you deal with primarily. Those people work very hard making sure that the show goes smoothly, that you have your booth space, etc. Bring them a thank you gift because they deserve it. (Plus, they will probably remember you forever because of it)
  • Promote our appearance until I’m blue in the face. And then do one more promotion.
    I don’t mean bombard people with 5 emails the week leading up to the show. But, plan a multi-channel campaign that will promote awareness of your appearance. Via email, direct mail, social media, and more. Put a banner ad in your email signature. Make sure it’s on your website’s home page. Try to push out a press release the week of the show, that mentions something great you’ve recently done (at the bottom of the PR piece – list your appearance at the show)
  • If we are presenting, or running a seminar, make sure we have a great give-away.
    You certainly want people to attend your presentation. More importantly, you want them to remember you. They might remember if you give a great speech. They’ll have something to remind them of that if you provide something hardcopy (maybe a copy of the preso) that they can take-away.
  • Give out more business cards
    I don’t know why, but I sometimes hold these too close to my chest. I will be much more aggressive in distributing my cards to everyone that I meet.
  • Ask for more business cards
    You should not feel awkward asking someone for their card. If they are attending the show, they are pretty much expecting to be asked for a card by the vendors.
  • Gain conversation-courage
    Talking to people at the booth is one thing. They come to you. But you can sometimes get your best leads at the post-show events at night. If you have a great personality, use it. Fight the urge for comfort, and avoid hanging out solely with the people that you traveled with.
  • Don’t let “back-home/office” stuff show on your face
    I see this happen, and it makes me cringe. Someone is working the booth, and they check their email. Uh-oh – there’s a crisis back at the office. By all means, go handle it. But sometimes you see someone try to handle it directly at the booth. Their face reddens, and the tone of their voice becomes anything but pleasant.  Certainly, a passerby does not expect us to be a robot. But, if they see “trouble” written all over our face, they may associate that with our company, product, or service.

How about you? Do you have any tips for making trade shows a more successful venture?

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