Now is the time of the year when many companies are planning their year ahead including which trade shows they will be attending. As event season kicks off, it can be a stressful time with all that entails when preparing for an event but by planning effectively in advance and setting clear goals, you can be confident that you will succeed!

Regardless of what business or industry you are in, there will always be a handful of events that bring together the biggest names and brightest minds in your sector. We are currently supporting a number of our clients preparing for trade shows, including Pittcon and Analytica as well as one of the biggest events on the healthcare industry’s calendar, HIMMS.

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a significant investment, especially for smaller businesses, but by investing in the short term, you can reap the benefits in the long term, turning the leads collected at an exhibition into loyal and repeatable customers – but how can this be achieved with maximum ROI?

Prepare & Plan!

  1. Set clear and measurable objectives for the event and put a plan in place as early as possible. This should include all deadlines such as getting the booth designed and the graphics submitted. Remember that it is not just you at this event but also your competitors, therefore it is essential to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to try something different!
  2. Research for the right exhibitions and conferences and be up to speed on who is attending so you can target your messaging effectively.
  3. Messaging should be prepared in advance of the event and should be consistent across your stand, company literature and press material. This will ensure you’re communicating clearly to your customers and prospects about who you are, what your business is about and what you are showcasing at the event.
  4. Take advantage of media opportunities through editorial placements in the build up to an event or secure space in a show daily or event publication


The big event!

Networking: Exhibitions, conferences and trade shows provide a great opportunity to meet with new and existing connections in your industry — giving you the chance to market your business face-to-face.

a) Always take plenty of business cards and remember to collect them from people you meet with as you’ll need them after the event for follow-up and connecting. A great example of this was seen on the last series of The Apprentice when eventual winner Joseph, owner of a plumbing company, took the business cards from his leading players in the plumbing world who participated in a focus group!

b) Use the event as a live research session. Ask people opinions of your company/brand, products/tools/solutions, and sales and marketing collateral through VIP meetings with customers and check out your competitors.

Integrated marketing tactics: Try implementing some traditional and not so traditional campaigns at the event:

a) Events on booth
b) Media meetings to raise your profile pre-event and with media at the event
c) VIP customer meetings
d) Social media and digital communications, for example live tweet updates from the event

Follow-on activity

Once the event is over the work is not finished! Review what you have done, was it successful against objectives? Make sure you follow up with all the leads you’ve generated and the people you’ve spoken to. This increases the chance of converting your leads into sales. (The statistics on how many sales leads never get followed up are scary!)

With the right preparation, exhibitions provide an excellent platform for building brand awareness and generating sales leads. It’s important to continually build a pipeline of new business opportunities while engaging with your current customers to ensure that you are meeting their needs.

Trade shows are a vital part of any integrated campaign and we have the experience and expertise to help you maximize your trade show presence and generate results for your business. So if you’d like to experience a true partnership contact us today.

By Scott Girling-Heathcote, Account Manager at The Scott Partnership