ABC’s for 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 significant event. This is key when your financial people need to understand why you need to do more shows and how to prove which shows are better when planning for next year. This post focuses on getting the most exposure for your group during an event.

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 provide 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.

“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 afterward 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 the 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 vital 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 ordinarily 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 just by participating? Keep your eyes open for ways to be seen at a showcase event or special ticket evening event, exclusive 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.

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 a 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 considerable 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 a valid and working email and website! Yes, I still run into this regularly, and it surprises me every time.

Create your packing list. Finding the personal necessities at the show site may be difficult. Did you pack water, Pedialyte, snacks, breath mints, etc.? Did your staff become sick during an event? Pedialyte can be a lifesaver!

Host a VIP party! Who said that this should be all work and no play? Host a party at your booth during lunchtime. Hold a fashion show. Invite those select 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 most straightforward 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 a sale of 30-60 days, and “C” leads are sales greater than 60 days out. 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 five 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. The potential 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. 

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

Amanda MacDonald

Founder of Full Gallop Communications

Amanda is a marketing veteran that works with businesses on improving brand communication, marketing strategy, and creating content marketing. When not in the office, Amanda can be found at the barn with her horse, walking her two dogs on Lake Ontario or baking something carbtastic in the oven.

Contact her at to inquire about how your marketing efforts can become more successful.

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