Trade show success doesn’t happen by accident. Whether you’re new to the industry or are a veteran, it’s important to recognize that there is plenty of planning that needs to happen before, during, and after events. Today we will talk about the 5-Step Shuffle to trade show success.
Originally developed by Jonathan “Skip” Cox, the 5-Step Shuffle defines the steps that should be taken to ensure trade show success.
- Communication with the marketing and sales teams is essential to understanding how trade shows, expos, and events can attract target clients, and generate leads and sales. Without this valuable information, you could be talking to the wrong audience about the wrong product or service.
- Gather feedback from current and prospective customers about events they attend. You have to know where to find your target audience! Once you know where they will be, you can…
- Create a master list of shows where you can find your customers and prospects. Rather than wasting time trying to find customers, go to where they are and bring your products to them!
Exhibiting at trade shows is about more than setting up a table or a booth, gathering business cards, and showing off your products. It’s about connecting with your target audience that brings positive results to the bottom line.
STEP 1: Learn More about Your Customers and Prospects
You wouldn’t roll out a new product without testing the market so why would you pay to be an exhibitor at a trade show without it? You shouldn’t and here’s why:
To make the most of your trade show return on investment (ROI), you’ve got to acquire an understanding of your company’s markets, products and services, and marketing strategy and goals. Otherwise you could be exhibiting at events that are not helping the company reach its goals.
More importantly, without research, you could be exhibiting at the wrong events and not be reaching your customers with products and services that can change their lives.
Talk to internal marketing and sales teams in your organization.
They will have an understanding of the ideal customer and can provide a picture of that person or people to you. From geographic to demographic, you will begin to see who you need to reach at events.
The marketing and/or sales team of an established organization should be able to also define buying habits and sales cycles and have an understanding of the competition. This will help you clearly define which trade shows align with the vision of the company and the needs of the ideal customer(s).
STEP 2: Ask for Feedback
We often make the mistake of only asking current or former customers about their customer experience. Trade show success can be maximized when you also ask prospects what they are looking for in a product or service in your category:
- Which trade shows are they attending?
- How interested are they in your products?
- Which products are they most interested in?
- What was their experience at a particular trade show?
The answers will help guide you to events where you can find your target market and which products you will highlight at those events.
STEP 3: Create a List of Trade Shows that Fit Your Business
Once you’ve established the marketing and business goals of your business and gained an understanding of your ideal customer, you can begin to develop a list of trade shows, expos, and events that have the greatest value to your business.
Using the Global Event Calendar, you can search upcoming events using a variety of criteria including industry and location. Consider the following as you’re developing your list:
- Reputation of the event
- Ability to network with colleagues
- Communication of trade show staff and exhibitors (Can you get the information you need in the timeframe you need it or will you go to the event with lingering questions?)
- Quality of event speakers
- Size of the event vs. needs of your business and/or industry (Is the event too big or too small for your business and goals?)
- Value for the money (What’s my estimated ROI?)
Create the master list and then…
STEP 4: Analyze the Master List
Now that you’ve taken the 10,000+ trade shows that take place in the U.S. and found the ones that fit your business, it’s time to find the best shows for your money. Talk to the show’s organizers about results from past shows. While it is somewhat subjective, it will give you an idea of the types of exhibitors and results.
- Total attendance
- Net attendance which excludes exhibitors
- Ask if the information provided is audited by an outside agency.
- If it is a first-time show, review past events
If the organizer is non-responsive or will not provide information, cross them off the list. It’s a clear indicator of how well they communicate with their exhibitors – and why take a chance when there are better options available.
STEP 5: Create a Short List of Shows
The master list is a wish list. If your business had an unlimited budget and your customers were confirmed to be at all these events that would be the perfect scenario. While we can all hope, that’s probably not the case. Take the master list, your research (marketing, sales, customers, prospects), as well as time and budget to create a short list of events where you will showcase your brand.
The team at EXHIB-IT! is here to help you create a trade show display to showcase your brand, attract target clients, and bring you trade show success in the form of sales. Contact us today to learn more.