Trade Show Tips – Part 2

In the first part of this series, we covered the basics of sorting out your return on investment for a trade show or large event. This is key when your financial people need to understand why you need to do more shows and how best to prove which shows are better than others when planning for next year.

Speaking Opportunities – Depending on what you offer, being a featured speaker on a specific topic can gain you more exposure and positioning as a leader in the industry.  Large events usually offer ways to show how your products work. If you are a clinician or trainer, this is even easier. Sign up for a time slot and demo what you do.  Look for yearly festivals where the organizers are actively looking for people to fill an entire day or two of short sessions.


Showmanship Clinic Session  – during EquiFest 2016
30-45 minutes of tips and tricks presented on improving your showmanship scores

“Exhibiting is beyond the booth.  Having your executives or technical staff presenting at the conferences provides additional brand exposure.  Make certain the topic is relevant.  Be prepared with a take-away piece (literature, giveaway or business cards) provided at the session.  As an example, our scientist presented a new product at a session.  We scanned attendees as they walked in and offered a token gift as they departed.  Approximately 50% of those people came by our booth afterwards for further discussions.”

Sponsorships – When selecting sponsorships, think about the following criteria: Does this option give the most eyeballs on your banner or ad?  Is this your target audience that you want to draw?  Will your logo be seen on streaming video or TV? What additional options are in the package? Will this option be seen mostly by people attending the event?

Sponsorship perks such as VIP areas are important if you need a place to meet and greet clients or sit down and hold a meeting. Sometimes product exclusivity or official status is available at an event. If you are a manufacturer, this can be beneficial. The larger the event, the more options are normally available.

Are you able to sponsor a series? This costs more, but it puts you in front of the same people each time to deliver your message, thus chipping away at brand recall blanks, weekend after weekend.  Keep in mind that on average, it takes seven “touches” before a brand can be recalled by someone new.

Get involved! Are there other activities during the event that you could be visible in just by participating? Keep your eyes open for ways to be seen at a showcase event or special ticket evening event, special sponsorships or classes. If you have ideas, take them to the event board for consideration, especially if they are child-friendly or support the non-riding public involvement. Shows are looking for ways to bring in the public and showcase their sport and will likely be happy to entertain your ideas.


This training facility was smart enough to bring a puppy along.
Who can resist a puppy face?

Pre-show Promotions – we all know them, but how do you execute?  Select 20 potential or existing customers that you want to reach.  Email them an invitation to see a presentation at your booth; offering them an incentive.  Your incentive can be sample, a discount of your hot new piece and/or promotional gift.
Then offer to deliver their location.  This stretches at least 3 “touches.”

Show Management sometimes offers an attendee mailing list to rent.  Create a mail piece with a call to action, such as, come to our booth and receive a token gift. Factor in stamps, printing and if there is a fee to use the show list. Keep track of who stops by and collect the cards (Bring the card in to get your free gift) . Do a daily drawing for multi-day shows and post the winners each day on social media.

Packing to Win. Forgetting to pack spurs is one thing. Not packing enough product, or running out of catalogs is another. You don’t need to necessarily spend a huge amount to have a professional appearance at an event. Be sure you include the basics so that people know who you are, can follow up later, and understand at a glance what you offer. I was just at a show and saw a booth that did not even have these basics. What kind of impression do you think they left? Check that all handout materials have an accurate and working email and website! Yes, I still run into this on a regular basis and it still surprises me every time.

Create your packing list.  Finding the personal necessities at show site may be difficult.  Did you pack water, Pedialyte, snacks, breath mints, etc?  Did your staff become sick during an event?  Pediatlyte can be a life saver!  For a complete list of what to pack, download this handy list. [pdf-embedder url=””].

Host a VIP party! Who said that this should be all work and no play? Host a party at your booth during lunch time. Hold a fashion show. Invite those special contacts to a beer and wine happy hour immediately following the show close at your booth. Sometimes the event will help you plan these, sometimes you are on your own, so ask what they allow depending on the organizational group and venue.

Lead generation for success – Not all leads are created equal. The simplest approach is Qualified (written information provided) vs Not Qualified.  I prefer the letter rating of A, B or C leads.  “A” lead is someone that intends to purchase within 30 days or a hot lead.  “B” leads have intentions of 30-60 days out for a sale, and “C” leads are greater than 60 days. Then look at how you measure your meetings within your lead count.  Our method was to weigh meetings as un-scheduled meetings are equal to 2 leads and scheduled meetings are equal to 5 leads.

Follow up! After the event, be sure to reach out and thank people for stopping by.
Offer a special deal just for them.
Add them to your LinkedIn contacts. Be sure to include them in your email contact list or CRM tool.

Getting these contacts was not easy or inexpensive, so make sure that you don’t lose them. This happens in the rush of getting home and moving on to the next immediate thing and the potiential is lost.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, the ABCs of ROI – Goal Setting and What to Measure, you can find it here. If you have other tips of the trade that you swear by, please share them in the Comments section! 🙂

About Nina Richards  With over 23 years in the tradeshow industry, Nina brings insight and superb show management skills honed while supporting worldwide companies to gain visibility, launch technical products and increase sales.

Amanda MacDonald, Owner/PrincipalHi, I’m Amanda!  As a life-long equestrian, I understand the importance of keeping our horses healthy, happy and well-appointed. And with over 15 years of experience in marketing, I can help you to translate that shared goal into a brand that drives sales. I’ve mastered marketing strategy, branding, website production and digital media marketing, and led successful teams to bring it all together.  So it’s a pleasure to offer my services and knowledge to those who make my life more enjoyable, and to bring new products and services to others to keep our horses happy and healthy. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!