We asked our Head of Marketing Operations, Kate Shepherd, to share her top tips on how to make the most of your investment at a trade show. Here’s what she said. . .
So you’ve allocated your marketing budget for the year and you have decided there’s value in taking part in a trade fair; it’s a big investment but the opportunities for lead generation and future business justify the outlay. You’ve decided on the exhibition(s) that make the most sense for reaching your audience and you’ve booked your stand. The show is still 8 months away so there’s plenty of time to get organised and booking and designing the stand is the most important part anyway right? Well sort of, but booking your stand is just the start.
If you really want to get the most out of any trade fair and in particular one that brings in Hosted Buyers then your journey is only just beginning. The first and most important thing you can do once you’re all signed up is make sure your company and its participation are visible to potential buyers and visitors – if they don’t know you’re there, they won’t book an appointment with you or drop by your stand in 8 months time.
Take the time to add as much information as you can to your online profile, include pictures videos and press releases – exhibition organisers always look for content to promote their shows and they will gratefully lap up news from signed up exhibitors to share with both prospective and registered buyers.
Having a detailed profile and interesting material also means that when buyers are looking through the exhibitor list to select their appointments they will have some useful information to decide if you’re the exhibitor that they want to place business with.
Our analysis has shown that exhibitors who have fully complete profiles more than 6 months out from show are twice as likely to receive more appointments with buyers than those who don’t. It also means that the buyers requesting meetings with you have a good idea of what you can offer and therefore have a genuine reason for wanting to see you – meaning you get better qualified leads.
In addition at ibtm events, a complete profile means we can use our sophisticated matchmaking algorithm to match your company with buyers searching for criteria that you meet – we can then recommend buyers book an appointment.
Secondly think of something interesting to do at the show – time the launch of a new product, hold an event at your stand, run a competition or do an engaging demo – all things that the show marketing team could add to their emails, show previews, catalogues etc and it won’t cost you a penny!
If you’ve got a bit more budget sitting around (not something us marketers have the luxury of all that often anymore but sometimes we get lucky), then sponsor away and get your brand out there – think about digital opportunities to add to some onsite branding that will give you brand exposure ahead of and after the event itself and are often competitively priced – this way you can engage buyers at multiple points cementing your products and services in their minds.
Last but not least is planning your show – and yes it’s your show – us event organisers are there to facilitate business connections – but our exhibitors are what make the show at every level. Organise your diary – take the time to request appointments with buyers, ensure you’ve got your lead capturing and follow up campaigns in place, there’s nothing worse from a buyer’s perspective than having a great conversation at a stand and then never receiving any follow up.
At ibtm world 2016 we’re offering free lead scanning to all exhibitors through the mobile app – without a doubt something to be taken advantage of, but even if this service isn’t included in your participation at an event make sure you have a plan to capture and follow up on leads. Research your buyers with appointments as well. Look them up on LinkedIn or research their company and make your meetings relevant to their business – it may just help secure that deal and don’t forget the potential for walk by leads as well.
Finally, network, network, network – it’s not always the easiest thing to do and many of us find networking a challenge; that uncomfortable standing around trying to find an ‘in’ to join or start a conversation, but taking advantage of the opportunities available really can make a difference and will help build those connections that are vital to any lasting business relationship, not to mention there’s usually some great food, drinks and fun to be had!