Trade shows (for example, like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, coming up May 4-7) are, and will continue to be, one of the best venues to connect buyers and sellers. But with advances in technology and increasingly more knowledgeable consumers, like everything else, the landscape of trade shows is changing. If your head is spinning with keeping up with the latest crazes – whether it’s pre-show promotions or ways to engage attendees – don’t worry. You don’t have to keep up with everything, but there are some solid actions you should be taking. Here they are:
Quit procrastinating with social media.
There are lots of varying stats out there on how much time people now spend on social media. Quantify it how you want, but it’s no longer optional if you want a stake in the game. Flyers, direct mail pieces and emails alone just won’t cut it anymore. If you are not engaged in social media for your business, you’re losing out. Social media is a great way to get your message out before, during and after the show. Lots of companies even have full-time employees dedicated to social media alone. Maybe you aren’t ready for that level of commitment, but you need to start somewhere and use social media to your advantage.
Brush up on your knowledge – and then some.
Thanks to the increasingly limitless brain dump that is the Internet; consumers are more informed than ever. Prior to seeing your exhibit booth, attendees may have already researched your company, your products and maybe even YOU for that matter! You need to be a step ahead and know your company, products and services inside and out. This may also mean you need to have more experts on hand, or provide more technical demonstrations or presentations than you’ve done in the past. Just don’t get too technical right way. Read Turning Technical Booth Staff into Sales Superstars for more on that subject.
Measure. Measure. Measure.
Want to keep your trade show budget? Even if your trade show is producing great results, chances are your boss will want to see measurable results. Simply saying “it went well” or, “we got a lot of great leads,” won’t suffice. You need quantifiable data. The good news is that there are lots of new measurement tools available to help easily track your return on investment and, if you use a reputable exhibit house, they’ll be able to guide you in the right direction. Here are some great tips to get you started.
Be open to new ideas.
Doing things the way you have always done them isn’t the best way to grow your sales. So whether it’s pre-show promotions, giveaways or you’re just using the same exhibit booth year after year, think about changing things up. Easier said than done right? Brainstorming with your team, or bringing in employees from other departments who may have some great ideas, is always a great idea. And don’t forget to check out what others are doing at trade shows that you attend, as there are tons of great ideas in one venue. We love coming up with new and innovative ideas so don’t be afraid to pick our brains too! Learn more about our strategy and consulting services here.
The world of trade show marketing is changing rapidly, but one thing is for certain – trade shows are here to stay. So take this new advice into account so you can keep up with the times and take advantage of the face time trade shows offer.
About Peggy Swords
Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.