Marketing is the 90s is a sophisticated art form. Companies that
can creatively and aggressively use their marketing tools will be
the ones to succeed. Although trade shows are one of the oldest
marketing tools, they are still misunderstood and worse yet, misused.
Shows have become a venue where professional sellers meet professional
buyers under one roof and under serious time pressures.
To compete successfully, exhibitors must understand that trade
shows are not sales calls. To get the best return on their show
investment involves a completely different set of skills, preparation,
planning, execution and follow up.
Here are six tips that will increase your next show's level of
1. Set show objectives
Someone once said there are just two purposes for a trade show:
to find new customers or keep the old ones. While this is true,
each show you choose can satisfy different objectives. Your exhibiting
objectives are unique to your company, and change with each show.
They should be thought out well ahead of time. Objectives can include
gathering leads, booking sales, creating an image, meeting the media,
introducing new products and finding dealers or reps.
2. Choose the right show
Whether there is only one show or several that attract your target
audience, make sure the show fits in every way. Talk to the show
manager about the show, the exhibitors, the attendees, the facilities,
the show rules, and show promotion. Make sure that the show you
choose satisfies your marketing needs.
3. Promote powerfully
Exhibitors typically leave promotion to the show organizer. However,
in order to attract as many people as possible to your exhibit,
you must develop a plan of your own. This plan should include such
pre-show techniques as advertising, invitations, and media releases.
At the show, attention to your booth can be enhanced with games,
draws, celebrities, and demonstrations. Visitors have too many choices
and not enough time to see everything. Make sure they want to see
4. Create exciting displays
Visitors often complain that shows look "tired." This
is because exhibitors show up year after year with the same displays
and the same look. Visitors are looking for new and exciting things.
After all, this is "show biz." There is a plethora of
display systems and attention getters including everything from
interactive kiosks and electronic displays to laser lights. Exhibitors
who plan their visual displays carefully are the ones who attract
the greatest number of people and have the best chance of meeting
their show objectives.
6. Develop a follow up plan
The real show payoff happens after the booths are dismantled. This
is where most exhibitors have failed in the past. A good follow
up plan gives you the ability to gather information correctly at
the show, get back to the prospect within seven days and keep in
touch with them on a regular basis. For the longer term prospects,
sending unwanted brochures is a waste of time and money. They will
be more receptive to articles, announcements and invitations.
The successful exhibitor knows that exhibiting is not kid's stuff.
It is serious business. Shows are a place where you can grow your
business to levels you have not even imagined-if you are ready.
Barry Siskind is President of International Training and Management,
a training company specializing in exhibitor training and business
networking. He is the author ofMaking Contact andThe
Successful Exhibitor . E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-358-6079.