You need to define your objectives. What are you looking to accomplish? Who are you looking to reach? What message are you looking to communicate? What are your goals? What’s your budget? That will help you determine what trade shows to exhibit at, how to prepare for the show, how to conduct yourself at the show, how to follow up with leads and how to measure success.


From your objectives, you can determine what trade shows to exhibit at. You can’t and shouldn’t exhibit at all of them. Exhibit at established shows. Don’t exhibit at new shows. Exhibit at shows that reach the people you want to reach. Pick shows that are affordable and cost effective. How many exhibitors will be at the show? How many attendees are expected? How many of your competitors will be at the show? How well is the show promoted? What is the venue for the show? What is the venue location? Pick a good location for your booth that has high traffic, is by an entrance or exit, has high visibility and is on the end of an aisle.


Prepare for the show. Determine your booth and staff. How big is the booth? What is the layout of the booth? What is the location of the booth? That will help you determine the type of display. Are you using an inline display, portable hybrid display, pop up display, table top display or stand up banners or signs? The graphics on the display should be bold, convey your brand and marketing message and be consistent with your other marketing materials. Will it attract people into your booth? You have only seconds to get their attention. Do you have any electrical or lighting requirements? Will you be doing any audio or video demonstrations? What equipment will you need? Your booth should be staffed with appropriate, trained personnel. Staff should preferably be corporate ownership, executives, management or marketing and sales personnel. Staff should be dressed professionally. Marketing materials should be in line with your objectives. Promotional products can be given away and should convey your brand. Lead capture processes should be created. Are you using a fishbowl to collect business cards? Are you offering an incentive, giveaway or raffle to collect cards? How will to take notes to remember contacts for follow-up? Are you offering candy? Promote that you’ll be exhibiting at the show. Invite people to attend your booth. Send out an Evite. Send out an email to your email database and post to your social media network. Create a Facebook or Google+ event. Advertise on the radio, TV or in print. Pass out flyers. Educate yourself on exhibiting. There is plenty of information online, trade show publications and trade shows for exhibiting.


Show up early to set-up your booth. Work the floor to visit other booths before attendees arrive. This will give you the lay of the land for the show. It will also help you network with other exhibitors uninhibited. Then you can man your booth for most of the show. Conduct yourself professionally. Be friendly. Smile. Use breath mints if needed. Stay hydrated. Don’t eat at your booth. Stand outside your booth in the aisle. Stop traffic passing by. Be assertive. Put your hand out. Shake hands. Greet attendees. Introduce yourself. Ask them about themselves. Strike up conversations. Don’t ignore attendees. Build relationships. Don’t sell! Determine what they need and how you can help them. Ask open ended questions. Follow the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time and talk 20%. Pass out marketing materials and promotional products. Gather business cards. Take notes during and after you’ve finished speaking with attendees to use for follow-up. Don’t break down your booth early.


Now the real work starts. Follow up on leads in a timely manner within 72 hours after the show. Call them, send them an email or send them a social media message. Send follow up marketing material if needed. Move the leads down the sales cycle. Achieve your goals and objectives. Convert leads into sales and revenue.


Measure your results. Determine your ROI. What were your costs? How many leads did you generate? What is your cost per lead? How many leads did you convert into sales? How much did you generate in sales? What was your average sale? What was your cost per sale? What was your ROI? This will help you determine if you should exhibit at that show again. It will also compare your exhibit marketing to your other marketing and lead generation. Sales management software can help you compile these numbers. How did the results compare to your goals and objectives. Where can you improve?


Now you know why you should exhibit at trade shows and the best ways to do that to accomplish your goals and objectives. Are you doing that? Why not? I look forward to visiting your booth at the next trade show. And remember to visit KFNX’s booth also.


Francis Battaglia


We write this blog to help small business owners with their dilemmas, because that is what who we are, and those are our clients.

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