As America opens back up in a post-pandemic world, trade shows and in-person events are back in business, and are perfect places for you to get your product, service or brand in front of people who are looking for the solutions you provide.
But these can be expensive initiatives – they demand your financial investment, your energy, your travel and your team’s resources to execute with excellence. Here’s some hard truth: beautiful info desks and displays won’t get you the best return on investment.
You can no longer justify “just showing up” with a $150,000 booth and no strategy.
But there is something irreplaceable about showing up and seeing customers, peers and competitors – face to face.
So, here are a few things to do to ensure that your next trade show or live event is a major success.
Before the event:
RULE 1) Plan, partner with applicable vendors, order and TEST all items that will be brought to the trade show. There’s nothing worse than investing in the coolest technology, designs and interactive tools…
…only to get to the event and realize that you don’t have the cords, batteries or other accessories that you need.
--> We’ve prepared a FREE checklist for you to use when you’re in the planning stage, and it includes some often-overlooked items. To access this free resource, simply enter your information below:
(By the way, Vers Creative is an ideal partner for planning your next trade show. We bring the inspiration, the execution and the experience to make that the plan and the performance exceed your wildest expectations! If you’re interested in a free consultation, head to verscreative.com/contact-us and we’d be happy to chat.)
RULE 2) Announce that you’ll be there! Great ways to post about your upcoming events include:
- A news release posted on your website and social media (and shared with your email list)
- A new release shared with your local media and the media that is local to the trade show (tell them what makes you special enough to get coverage on their air)
- A sign-up page on your website so that people can pre-register for an opportunity to take part in an interactive part of your booth or exhibit
- Many trade shows will be willing to promote this with or for you, so that their attendees can RSVP for a limited offer or special display or giveaway
During the event:
RULE 3) Consider capturing content with people you don’t normally see face to face who are already dressed up (and camera ready!) at the show.
Point of information → The cost to produce one piece of content (scheduling, coordinating travel, production, editing, distributing) can be anywhere from $2,000-$10,000.
Not only can you capture 10-15 pieces in a 2-day show, you can often get access to people who wouldn’t make time for you or for the required travel, if it were just a one-off appearance.
Get testimonials by setting up a true video and photo capture set in your booth. Set up a photo wall and while people are taking pictures, engage these prospective leads and build relationships with other thought leaders.
Ask yourself: What will make your customers want to take a picture with you or your product and brand name? What make you do the same, for other brands?
(Remind them to tag you on social media when they post, too!)
RULE 4) At minimum, you should do something that will engage the audience or entice them to have a conversation.
If you are doing a giveaway to lure people in, make it good enough to make them want to keep it, and be willing to give you their contact information so that you can follow up after the event.
(Example: at a recent trade show that the Vers Creative team attended in Canada, Howes set up a VR experience to let people try out and engage with their branded product library.)
Gamify your booth or display area – and include something enticing that can only be unlocked in exchange for their contact information. Perhaps it’s the ability to send a branded photo or video directly to their phone or email inbox. Maybe it’s an extra 5 minutes of demo or VR time, if the attendee provides their email address or signs up for a follow-up call after the event. Again, ask yourself: what would have you providing your information, if you were an attendee?
Perhaps you can feature a “test zone” to display your product. Help your prospects and future customers experience the very best of your product or services (and remember to engage as many of the 5 senses as possible).
After the event:
5) You collected leads and contact information (right?). Now is the time to follow up! An email or a 3-email follow-up funnel with a special offer is ideal, but be sure to do it quickly.
The more time that passes, the higher the chance that your potential customer loses interest.
Your offer should be personalized, include an exclusive, limited-time offer and be SHORT. Here’s an example:
Hi again, Sally!
It was a pleasure meeting you at the BRAND XYZ booth at the TRADE SHOW NAME this week. Thank you for tagging us in your post on Instagram – our team was thrilled to see it! – and an additional thank you for your great questions about how our product does FEATURE A and FEATURE B.
I wanted to follow up with a more detailed demo video (link here) and also, a discount code that will get you X% off your purchase, if you complete it by DATE HERE.
This is an exclusive offer only for those who visited us at the booth, and if you do check out with the discount code by DATE HERE, I’ll add in a special bonus: BONUS XYZ.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call me directly at 888-888-8888.
YOUR NAME HERE
P.S. [INCLUDE A FINAL PERSONAL MOMENT/STORY FROM YOUR INTERACTION AT THE EVENT HERE]
RULE 6) Look ahead to your next event! Immediately after you return is a great time to sit down with everyone involved – team members who attended, team members who didn’t, your vendors and partners, etc. and ask: what went well? What would we do differently for our next event?
A lot of people are wondering what the value of a post-pandemic trade show is. Rather than evolving and making the most of it, many people are scared to exhibit and are missing out on an opportunity.
For some, customers are not at shows like they used to be, and for others, exhibiting no longer makes sense.
But for the majority of brands and organizations, trade shows and in-person events are ideal for high-return marketing and branding opportunities.
Plus, they’re incredibly FUN! We can’t wait to see what you do in 2022.