Exhibiting at a trade show, conference or other live event creates brand awareness for your company. It allows you to gain exposure with new prospects, meet with existing clients and forge new relationships with other exhibitors. In order to achieve a positive ROI (Return on Investment) from these events, you need to be sure you have a defined Exhibitor Marketing Strategy.
What is Exhibitor Marketing?
Exhibitor Marketing (also known as Trade Show Marketing) focuses on the event marketing plans of sponsors and exhibitors at live events, conferences and trade shows. These industry specific events allow you to demonstrate your products and services to a new audience.
Whether you are exhibiting at an event with 100 attendees or 30,000 attendees, there are four key stages of the event you need to plan. Your company pays thousands of dollars and spends countless hours of time for exposure at these events… don’t let that money go to waste.
Create Your Exhibitor Marketing Strategy Plan
Creating your exhibitor marketing strategy involves a series of four stages:
Stage 1: Show Planning
This stage occurs before you sign up to sponsor or exhibit at an event.
Step 1: Determine your goal for sponsoring or exhibiting at an event in the first place.
Are you trying to gather new leads, release a new product, boost sales? There are a number of potential goals and you need to decide on a specific, measurable goal for this event.
Step 2: Consider whether it is the right event for your company.
Will your target market be in attendance? Does the event have any restrictions that go against the goals you set in step 1? (i.e. If your goal is to increase sales, do they allow sales at your booth?)
Step 3: Determine your budget for the event.
There are a number of costs associated with an event. You need to run the numbers to make sure that even with the expenses, that the show will be profitable for you in the long run. These costs include, but are not limited to:
- Cost to exhibit at the event
- Employee travel costs (hotel, transportation, meals)
- Booth design
- Booth location
- Furniture and carpet rental
- Electricity rental
- Wifi rental
- Booth advertising
- Promotional giveaways
- and more
Stage 2: Plan Your Show
It’s crucial that you plan every aspect of your show, from who will be working the booth, what you will be displaying and what your booth layout will be. When planning your booth, think of traffic patterns, lighting, event schedule and more.
Step 1: Advertise Your Booth
Use social media as well as traditional methods of advertising. These can include ads in industry publications, posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Let people know your specific booth location, as well as any special demos or events you are hosting.
Step 2: Order Your Supplies
Leave plenty of time to order supplies for your booth. This includes promotional items, business cards, brochures, banners and more. Be sure to check in repeatedly with whoever is responsible for the booth design to ensure carpet has been ordered, electricity secured and all display elements have been ordered.
Step 3: Train Your Staff
Even if you have a seasoned sales team working the booth, make sure they are aware of the specific goals for this event and what makes a qualified lead. If you have hired outside staff for the booth, run through specific scenarios with them BEFORE the event. Your entire team needs to be familiar with every aspect of your Exhibitor Marketing Strategy in order to have a successful event.
Stage 3: At the Event
Step 1: Be friendly and smile
This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many exhibitors we have seen who sit behind their table on their phone… ignoring potential visitors as they walk by. Be friendly, engage with those walking by and have genuine conversations with those who visit your exhibit.
Step 2: Listen
Again – this may seem obvious by many exhibitors try to control the conversation by giving their sales pitch without letting the customer share their needs at all. Don’t! Take the time to engage in conversation with your visitor. Ask them questions to qualify them and to find out what exactly they need. If your product or service is a good fit, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.
If your company is not a good fit, don’t be afraid to direct them to another company at the event. The visitor will appreciate the assistance and the other company will appreciate the act of good will.
Step 3: Take Notes
For each contact, notate what you spoke about… their interests, their pain points and what they are looking for. Indicate your hot leads versus curious bystanders. All of this information should be entered in the your CRM post event for historical purposes.
Step 4: Have a multi-sensory display
Every visitors takes in information in different ways. Have brochures or flyers people can read in addition to demos and videos.
Step 5: Meet other exhibitors
Part of your Exhibitor Marketing Strategy should include meeting with other exhibitors. You never know what possible joint venture opportunities may present themselves until you take the time to initiate those conversations.
Stage 4: The Power of Follow Up
80% of Exhibitors do not follow up with their leads post event
Take a minute to read that again. 80% of exhibitors at an event do absolutely NO follow up after the event. Surprised? It is crucial to have a strategic, pre-planned follow up plan for your event BEFORE you go to the event.
Step 1: Implement your post event marketing strategy.
Before the event, you should have ensure you have systems in place to track your leads from the event. If you promised to provide a specific type of follow up, such as a quote… be sure to provide it. This statement seems silly… but you would be amazed at how many people do not follow up on what they said they would do. Follow up right after the show… don’t wait weeks or months.
Step 2: Connect with leads online
Continue the conversation you started… online… via LinkedIn, Facebook, or wherever your lead prefers to communicate. Reach out individually… do not send group messages. It’s fine to have a script to use, but be sure to still personalize the message each time you send it. Leads will engage with you more if they feel like it is a personal message.
Step 3: Be ready for the long game
Don’t assume that just because someone stopped by your booth that they are going to convert right away. Know the length of your typical sales cycle and realize that post-show sales cycles may be longer.
Step 4: Evaluate your post show ROI
After the show has ended, evaluate the success of the show. This will include comparing your results to your initial goals. If your goal was to meet 50 new qualified leads, compare that number to the number of actual leads you met. How many of those new leads converted and what were the total sales from those conversations? How did they add to the Customer Lifetime Value? How did your expenses compare to your post show revenue?
Depending on the length of your sales cycle, this evaluation may need to be completed quarterly.
Need assistance with your Exhibitor Marketing Strategy? Contact us today to plan your next event.