Trade Shows – Preparation is the key : How to manage the ‘before, after and during’ for the best outcome?
One of the best offline methods to increase company sales is trade shows. Using online marketing methods is still highly valuable, but there is a lot of potential for B2B companies to increase their sales and revenues at trade shows when managed correctly.
Preparations before the show:
Emails – When sending regular emails to your clients or potential customers, add the trade show logo and a message about visiting you at the show. This will inform people that you are exhibiting at the show and where and when it is. If you know your booth number, you should also add that so people can find you easily.
LinkedIn – make sure you make some of the following changes to your page before the show:
· Revise your company page, stating that you will be at the trade show, what you will be exhibiting and where you will be situated.
· Refresh your personal profile or add a news post stating that you will be attending the show and what’s it’s about.
· Insert a review by a relevant company that you have recently worked with or sold a product to show other potential customers how significant your services are to them.
Research – It’s important to research other companies that are also attending and those who are exhibiting. Create a list of possible leads and set up meetings at your booth. If you are only planning to attend, there is normally a network area where you can hold meetings which is helpful and less time consuming than going from booth to booth. Also, be familiar with the layout of the show and use the floor plan so you know where your potential clients are.
‘Giveaways’ - Giving away freebies can attract more people to your stand which will create more interest in your services/product.
Support - Make sure you have support behind the scene during and after the event. This will assist you in finding people, setting up meetings and chasing people who didn’t show up and gathering information when needed. Make sure you are also prepared when the show is over to send follow up emails, LinkedIn invites to people you have just met up with and marketing material suitable to the shows target market.
Notes - It is also useful to keep notes on how many meetings you had and the number of people you met. Hold on to all business cards given to you.
Social Media - It is important to check what social media tools the trade show offers as well as checking out their official website. Most have a B2B networking platform, Twitter and a LinkedIn group. People will start posting on their own sites prior to the trade show.
LinkedIn Groups - A great place to chat and meet other people interested in the show is in the LinkedIn groups. Post occasionally about your company and booth number and invite people to join. Ask questions to the people in the group and make comments. Be responsive.
Twitter – Find out what the hashtag is for the show and start following their profile. Retweet relevant posts from other companies, reply and post with the hashtag to let other people know you are attending and invite them to your booth.
Facebook - These groups are not as common but if the trade show has an active group you should check if your target audience is present.
There should be three teams working together to assist with the success of the show.
Team A – The team who will be at the booth presenting the service or products.
Team B - The Business Development Team – who will also be at the show, but their responsibility is to find qualified meetings and walk the room, trying to find new relevant people to bring to the booth, adding more meetings to your schedule.
Team C – Office Admin team – This team will be behind the scene and will support your activities for the trade show by adding the leads to the CRM, reschedule meetings that were delayed or missed and scheduling introductions with new companies from the event.
During the trade show :
Share all your marketing information to a shared drive to enable any updates so your office team can deal with everything ‘live’ while you are there.
Make sure you write up any notes on leads met and use your phone to take a picture of their card and send it to Team C to upload their details and email them after the show.
Ensure you keep Team C updated throughout the show to enable them to schedule more meetings and chase up no shows.
Create a ‘Whatsapp’ group amongst the teams to communicate easily and update and record notes if needed.
Make sure the team at the show are active and not just hanging around the booth. They should be networking, approaching leads and inviting them to the booth, walking the floor and attending lectures.
To create a buzz and interest try and gather groups of people to your booth. This can attract more people and potential leads and is why we also suggest ‘giveaways’. When the booth looks busy and more appealing, it will attract a wider audience.
Post pictures on social media of your team at the booth when it’s busy. Never show an empty booth.
Ask your leads if they would be happy to have a photo with you to upload to LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram and tag them so they can share the post.
After the trade show:
Upload photos and articles from the show on social media and your website.
Add all the new leads on LinkedIn with personal invitations and remind them that you just met at the show.
Add the new companies to Twitter and follow them, adding the trade show hashtag and telling them how great it was to meet them. If you have pictures, you can add them also.
Ensure that all your new contacts have been uploaded to your CRM with their notes
Compare the results of the show to your initial goal that you were hoping to achieve
Preparation is the key. Trade shows are one of the best places to increase your sales. Many companies fall short as it takes them too long to follow up on leads and the momentum is lost. The key is to have everything prepared beforehand and having a strong backup team to support you throughout the whole process will ensure you gain more than your competitors and have the best outcome from the show.
Dafna Rolls, CEO & Founder of DRolls Associates, is an expert in hands-on business development with over 17 years of experience in sales, sales management and training, marketing and lead generation. Her entrepreneurial approach has been instrumental in helping to build and grow numerous small businesses in multiple industries.