A lot of companies either don’t know how to measure the ROI on a trade show, or they simply don’t bother to do it because it sounds too complicated. Arguably, you have a better way of deciding on the shows to attend, but it’s a more qualitative approach over a quantitative approach. First, only attend a show your customers will be at. Look at the reasons they might attend, such as:
- • New products
- • Visit with colleagues
- • Education
Sometimes companies attend trade shows simply because their competitor is attending a show. While that’s a reason to attend, it’s not a great reason unless you have some type of strategy. Trade shows let you evaluate your competitor’s products, and you can look at how they market themselves. You have three main reasons you should attend a trade show: customers, competitors, and suppliers. If you can justify these three reasons, then a trade show will be an eye-opening experience.
In general, you should never attend a trade show where you cannot generate enough leads to paying for the event before going. The business world is competitive, and you have to keep a sharp wit about yourself to survive in it. Keep every contact and lead you made from the past years, and reach out six weeks ahead of the trade show to make appointments before the event has even started. For example, one company talked about how they attended Dreamforce in 2012 and generated 1057 appointments before the show even started. That shows a maximum return on investment. You can also use social media like Twitter or Facebook to build hype for the show, but beware because spamming can send an audience running the other direction.
You have four basic configurations with trade show booths: island, peninsula, standard/linear and perimeter wall. A standard linear booth will share a common back wall, and it will be close to exhibits on one or both sides. They have a maximum height of eight feet, and they will be maintained on the sidewall for up to 5′. You cannot hang signs over a standard/linear booth. The perimeter wall booth, on the other hand, will have a maximum height of 12′. The length of the sidewall cannot be higher than 4′, and you cannot hang a sign over the perimeter wall both. With a peninsula booth, the exhibit will be 20′ x 20′, and it will have a depth from the common wall to the aisle of 20′. You have two types of peninsula booths:
- The first one backs up to the linear booth
- Your second version will backup to another peninsula booth, which is sometimes called a “split island booth”
As a side note, you can hang signs over peninsula booths 20′ x 20′ or larger. Island booths will be 20′ x 20,’ but they differ from peninsula booths because they have isles on all four sides. You can hang signs above an island booth.
Standard Booth Types
The regulations for booths vary based on the convention center, and sometimes even the show halls will have different regulations, so you want to contact show management first to learn about the specifics. The fire regulations are usually standard across the board. Covered ceiling structures and enclosed rooms and tents, for example, need one smoke detector for every 900 square feet. Whenever hanging signs, asking in advance for approval can save you from frustration later. For standard peninsula, island and split island booths, you will have a maximum of sixteen feet from the floor to the top of the sign. Your trade show displays should comply with space requirements, and if you have a double-sided sign with graphics, you will want to hang it 10 feet away from the adjacent booths out of respect.
Creating a Good Pitch
Sometimes salesman will talk your ear off with the information you don’t care about and talk to you in a way you can’t connect with. That is known as the poorly thought out sales pitch. You want your sales pitch so that it’s not too long and not too short but “just right.” How should you give a presentation? First, show off the best features and benefits of your products and services. Second, you identify the prospects and understand the key issues important to your client. Third, you write it using a human’s voice—a lot of sales pitches use lofty vocabulary or speaking like a robot. You want the pitch to be something your clients will say, “Hey! I can connect with that.” Fourth, you want to rehearse the pitch and know all the possible reactions from the interaction with your client.
As the old sales proverb goes, you don’t go shopping for a 1/8th-inch drill bit. Instead, what you are really looking for is a 1/8th-inch hole. When you understand this and what you are truly selling, you can tailor your product or service to better fit your client. Ask yourself which features bring real value to your client? Also, record your answers in a second column. Understanding your clients and what matters most to them will make you more effective at selling. To make an effective presentation, it does not come easily. You have to rehearse it and plan it out. It takes training at your booth to ensure the sales staff will make a visitor feel welcome.
For a long time, research has shown how the majority of generated leads from trade shows will never receive a follow-up. In fact, a study from 2010 concluded how fewer than 70 percent of the exhibitors will have a formal plan for how to follow up with the leads after the show. A prompt response after the show is crucial because you will still be fresh in the minds of your customers. You can set it up so that emails are sent immediately after the leads have entered your system. Your competition might take days or possibly even weeks before responding. Tailor a professional response because this sets your company apart from your rivals.
You also want a call to action that will be specific. If you just give the generic response of, “learn more,” or “for more information,” you will get a lukewarm response from most customers. Instead, give your prospect specific action they can take to engage with your company. For example, maybe you have a white paper that gives more information. You could say, “Download our free white paper,” or you could ask them to watch a three-minute video overview of your services and products.
Make Your Booth More Exciting
Small businesses might not have an extravagant budget to pull off a large-scale trade show exhibit, but that doesn’t mean their exhibit has to be boring. Even a large corporation with a trade show exhibit wastes their money when their presentation is boring. A smaller and more dynamic booth can still outperform the big boys when you use interesting shapes and have a vibrant booth with rich colors and graphics. This can be extraordinarily effective at bringing in crowds. A modular and reconfigurable exhibit could also be said to be a smart choice for the small business owner. You can truly customize your space for each show.