How do you begin to plan for your first trade show? Meaning, if you haven’t planned a trade show before, where do you start? At Exhibit Network, we are frequently asked this question by people who were assigned to manage their company’s trade show because they excel at their current job duties (usually as office manager or assistant). Here’s one way to approach your plan.
“Knowing from the beginning, the end.” We often recommend that new trade show managers write a follow-up note to attendees who have visited their booth. Yes, this is written before any other show planning occurs and before the actual show happens. What will this follow-up message say?
“Thank you for stopping by our booth at __________ Show. We were happy to introduce you to our new product, the _______ _______ _______. We are sure this product will help you/your company accomplish _______ _______ _______.”
Or “We were delighted to see you at our booth at __________ Show. We will be sure to send the information you requested on our products designed for _______ _______ _______. Our company excels in getting products delivered to our customers on-time and on-budget, guaranteed!”
Or “Congratulations! You were one of our lucky winners of the drawing at our booth at __________ Show. We look forward to being your preferred source for _______ _______ _______.”
The purpose of writing the follow-up message before the show is to give you direction for your booth. If your follow-up message talks about a new product, then obviously you will need to show your new product at your booth. If your follow-up message talks about your on-time delivery, then this core value will be the focus of your booth. If you want people to feel good and remember you after the show, then you will want to have some sort of prize drawing at your booth.
By writing this follow-up message before planning your trade show display, you are essentially answering the questions, “What results do we expect from exhibiting at this event?” or “What is our expected outcome for this trade show?” These are sometimes difficult answers to articulate, but by writing the post-show notes, you are looking at your booth through the eyes of your customers. This is an important element of your plan.
Once you know what your follow-up message will be and what you want to accomplish, you can then begin to think about your display. Your booth structure, graphics, promotional items (giveaways) and marketing pitch at the booth must all relate to your pre-written outcome. You want to stay focused on your objectives and your key potential customers. Try to remain selective and don’t try to be everything to everybody.
And remember, if you plan to follow-up with visitors after the trade show, you will need to collect their contact information at the show. Will you need to ask them qualifying questions to see if they are suitable potential customers? Will your follow-up be via email, phone call, or US Mail? – you’ll need to ask for the appropriate contact info. Will you want to eliminate some of the visitors from your follow-up list? How will you designate who receives a follow-up message and who does not?
Final Note: Be sure your booth staff knows from the beginning, the end. They need to be on-board with your plans so they can interact with attendees accordingly.
The task of planning a trade show can be intimidating, whether it’s your first or your tenth. Exhibit Network is here to help you navigate through the unknown to concept to results. Contact us today for a free consultation or request a free Exhibit Blueprint for Success. We look forward to hearing from you.