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Small Business Digest


Achieve Greater ROI at Trade Shows By Avoiding Mistakes

While marketers often give a great deal of attention to what happens on the trade show floor, many don’t apply the necessary focus to their pre and post-show activities.

By neglecting these critical parts of the trade show cycle, they are leaving potential sales on the show floor and wasting the money they’ve invested to exhibit.

“Garnering sales from trade shows requires more than simply selecting a booth, shipping materials to the show, and staffing the booth”, says Denise Graziano of Graziano Associates.

Each step of the trade show cycle has to be carefully planned and executed -- always with the exhibitor’s client in mind. Why should they come to your booth? How will you drive booth traffic? What promotional tools would be most effective for your company and your goals of this show? What is your post show follow-up plan? All these questions should be answered well before you set foot on the trade show floor.

To avoid making costly mistakes, and maximize rade show results, see the following recommendations.

Mistake #1: Not generating qualified booth traffic in advance: Graziano  says, “You must ask your audience to come, in advance, and give them a real reason to visit the booth. Craft effective pre-show messages to ensure they know you understand their pains, concerns, fears and that you have what they need to help them be more successful, more productive, and solve their challenges. Send them something unique and enticing in advance to create interest in your booth and what you’re promoting.”

Mistake #2: Booth personnel issues" Schedule the appropriate number of people to staff the booth – too many people is intimidating, too few frustrates people while they wait to talk to someone. Booth staffers should see the value in working the booth, understand the goal of the show, be enthusiastic with all who visit, stay on message, and gather relevant information for post-show follow-up.

Mistake #3: Wasting money on high shipping costs by sending too many materials: Grazino explains, “Do not bring so much material that you also end up shipping a large amount back to your office. Bring a minimal amount of select pieces for use at the show, for those who really want them immediately. Otherwise, email or ship materials to them after the show. This creates an instant opportunity to continue the dialog with them post-show, reduces shipping costs and waste.”

Mistake #4: Making poor choices with promotional products: Chosen carefully, promotional products are highly effective at keeping a product, service or company top of mind with the user. Make your choices fit the purpose, i.e. a product launch, educating your prospects, or general sales. Gifts should reflect the caliber of the company, and be useful and functional. Avoid poor quality or poorly decorated items, which reflects badly on the company. Have three price tiers of gifts on hand: larger quantities of a lower cost gift, for visitors who show some interest; a middle tier for better qualified prospects; higher end gifts for good clients who visit the booth.

Mistake # 5: Lack of post-show follow-up: When salespeople get back to the office, they are inundated with work that piled up while they were at the show. Often, those well-qualified leads turn cold while no one contacts them. There needs to be a protocol system in place for handling leads. Even if your office cannot handle the short-term high volume, you can do something simple to continue the dialog. Email them a follow-up survey about their needs and your product, allowing for more time for a formal follow up.


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