Sunday, October 5, 2014

8 Steps To Trade Show Success

Tell me…has this ever happened to you?  You (or your boss, or your assistant, or someone) realize there is a trade show coming up.  Then someone in the organization says “We need to get some crap to hand out at this show!”  My guess is you have heard it, or said it.  Don’t be ashamed. 
The problem of course is that if your entire strategy to a trade show is “we need to get some crap,” then your results were probably equally crappy!  So let us show you the way to have an actual plan…and get the most out of your next exhibit!
When it is at all possible, get a list of everyone that has confirmed to come to the show.  Though a lot of trade shows probably have a list of last minute sign ups, they will likely have a great list of attendees that are registered and ready to attend.  They are likely making preparations (and if they are smart) creating a strategy for working the show themselves.  Get that list!  As a matter of fact, I have a couple of clients that will not do a show if the organizers won’t provide a list.  Now that you have it…
Step 1:  Send each attendee an email inviting them to come to your booth! 
Your best bet would be to be as creative as possible.  Try to wet their whistle as to why they need to come and see you.  Do you have a great promotional item?  Do you have a fun theme?  Are you giving free beer?  Whatever.  Let them know that you want them to come and see you, where your booth is located, and why they should look for you!   Depending on how long you have until the show, you might even reach out more than once!
Step 2:  Send a direct mail piece to mirror the email.
Make this direct mail piece match the theme of the booth.  I like this direct mail piece to be either a postcard (so they don’t have to open it to see it) or a personal card.  The more impactful the direct mail piece, the better the attendance at the booth!
At the Trade Show
As a side note, a quick tip for a trade show is to have people who know the product or service and are comfortable selling at the booth.  A lot of the time a company will put warm bodies at the booth that don’t know the sales process.  This detracts from the credibility of the company.  So when you are staffing…don’t just bring anyone!
Step 3:  Have a Theme!
If you want to stand out from the competition in the long rows of Trade Show Masses, think about creating a theme for the show!  This not only gives you ammunition for how to dress and what to hand out, it can help with all of your planning for the event. 
Step 4:  Have a hand out for the masses.
With this you want to have a plan too!  Do you want your handout to drive traffic to the booth?  Do you want it to have a “lasting impact” after the show?  Do you want it to do both?  Or do you want it to stay at the bottom of the trade show bag never to come out again?  It’s up to you…so make sure you actually think out the audience, the item and its impact.  Obviously, your promotional consultant can help you think this through.  If you don’t have one, please let us at Hasseman Marketing know!  We would love to help.
Step 5:  Have a VIP Gift
Sometimes at a trade show a current customer will stop by the booth.  This is a wonderful opportunity to make a big deal about their business and thank them.  You also might have leads that you have a connection or show a real interest in your product or service.  This is a great time to reach below the table and get out a VIP gift. 
You could say “Stan, I really appreciate your business and for taking the time to stop and see me today.  I am not giving this to everyone, but please take this as a small token of my appreciation.” 
Or with a prospect, “Janice I think we are on the same page.  I know you have a lot of folks you want to see today, but I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.  I am not giving these to everyone, but please take this and I will follow up with you after the show.”
These VIP gifts would be a nicer gift and you wouldn’t need that many of them.  But you can really increase the impact with those special contacts by making them feel like the VIP’s they are!
After the Show…The Fortune is in the Follow Up!
Step 6:  Follow Up Quickly with Email
This is the bare minimum follow up.  But have a system in place to follow up with everyone that stopped by the booth.  Make sure you thank them for coming and remind them who you are and what you do!  These folks have seen a lot of people during that short period of time, so do your best to remind them of you.  If you remember the conversation it would be great to reference it!  But the sooner you can follow up, the more you portray the sense that you and your company is “on it!”
Step 7:  Follow Up with a Card
This can be a really nice personal touch.  Now I understand, if there are thousands of people then maybe this is not realistic.  If not, then another touch with a direct mail postcard might fit the bill.  But this will be one more way to get across their desk and to remind them of your “awesome-ness.”  The personal card, when appropriate can REALLY make you stand out! 
If the idea of writing, stamping, and sending all of those thank you notes makes you squeamish, you can look into other automated ways of doing it.  At Hasseman Marketing we use a system called Send Out Cards.  It’s perfect for a personal follow up piece like this one.  If you want information on that you can go to and see for yourself!
Step 8:  Follow Up with a Call
Yes that’s right, call them!  After going through this process, this is a great way to make the final personal touch.  It’s time to reel them in!
So that’s the 8 step process to making your Trade Shows more effective.  Depending on how many emails you send in the email steps you will have touched each prospect between 7 and 12 times.  Studies show it takes an average of 7 touches before a prospect buys…so you have done a complete job!
It’s not rocket science, but you need to have a plan in order to get the best results!