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Six Steps to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck at Tradeshows

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Are trade shows a controversial topic in your organization? Some see them as a great way to reach more people and build a list of opt-ins and potential leads, while others see it as frivolous spending with minimal payoff. I'm more in line with that first group – as long as trade shows are planned with careful consideration to maximize their effect. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

1. Plan, plan, plan

Even when going to a show you frequent, you should always discuss the KPIs before you attend – how will you measure success of this event?

You can minimize the risks of attending a new show by doing your homework: are this show's attendees in line with our target markets and customers? Will our presence at this event help us meet our marketing and sales goals? Is it possible to reuse collateral or booth skins or will we need to design new materials? Which brings me to…

2. Attractive booths attract attention

Sometimes people do judge a book by its cover, which is why it's important to pay attention to the details when it comes to booth design and graphics. Depending on the show and industry, you may host people in your booth who aren't familiar with your company. Those people are encountering your brand for the very first time. If your booth design is clean, professional and compelling, that is the first impression they will get. If your booth skins are faded or outdated, those people might immediately assume you're out of touch or unable to meet their needs.

3. Consider refreshing your collateral or creating new pieces

Imagine spending all the time and money refreshing your booth with a modern design and updated messaging, all to then have a lead walk into your booth and pick up a datasheet that's a few years old.

Consistency is really important at tradeshows. Having printed assets with graphics that match your booth could improve brand recognition, not to mention the peace of mind you get when sending content that you know is relevant and accurate.

Whether it’s spec sheets, print ads, brochures or even business cards, be sure there’s cohesion across the board and all information on each piece is up-to-date.

4. Figure out what you need - and what you don’t

Here’s where you can save some significant moolah. Do you really need a private space for breakout sessions or will the booth space be sufficient? Does it make more sense to host one large dinner with 20 cold or lukewarm leads or have four dinners with interested companies or even loyal customers? Do you need to have all those sales reps onsite or can you obtain the same coverage with fewer attendees? Consider these factors when making plans. Putting this kind of thought into your actions can not only cut down on costs, but can really optimize your presence at the event.

5. Don’t leave without new content!

Tradeshows are overflowing with valuable information that your target audience wants to learn about – that’s why they’re there in the first place.

Here are some suggestions of new content you can produce just from being at an event:

  • Post frequently on social media
  • Write up a blog entry of the top lessons learned
  • Stream a live video of a product demo in your booth
  • Interview thought leaders in the industry who are in attendance

Get creative and do multiple things to engage with your audience before, during and after the event.

6. Have a solid before and after plan

Before you go, send targeted communications to relevant people in your database. This is important. If you send out a bulk email to your entire list then you risk unsubscribes. Think about who will realistically be attending. Is this a huge event that people fly across country for? If not, then why are you telling someone in California you’ll have a booth at a Florida event? You’ve been thinking about your audience the entire time: Don’t stop now!

After the show you should have a nice list of new people who have visited your booth and have opted in to receive communications. Why not send them an email with a new, free asset related to the topic of the show? Have a plan of how you will nurture these new leads so that they can receive relevant communications and eventually become loyal customers.

Phew – you’re done! Tradeshows can have a great payoff for companies that plan ahead and leverage every chance they get to make a big impression with attendees.

If you’re still stressing out about your next show later this year, or you just got back from one and are thinking, “there’s no way I’m doing all of THAT again,” check out Ridge’s Tradeshow Deliverables and see how we can help.

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