Trade show preparation

Trade shows present a lucrative opportunity for marketers to gain exposure to vast numbers of potential buyers. For most manufacturers and distributors it is a major expense. So organization, preparation and coordination are essential to capitalize on their investment. A well planned and executed trade show effort will maximize response by making a dynamic impression on prospective buyers and turning that interest into sales. While this is the objective, many exhibitors overlook important factors, miss opportunities or worse, waste money on ineffective expenditures. Here are key elements for every trade show exhibitor.

CREATE A THEME. First, organize and develop a strategy, which includes factors unique to your business. To make a dynamic presentation, all elements must reflect a central unified theme, which includes graphics, colors and a specific sales message. These are reflected in the booth layout, product packaging, collateral and sales support materials down to ads and business cards and even the attire of personnel.

EMPLOY PRE-SHOW PROMO. Utilize direct mail and email campaign to contact your target market. Reaching out to existing and prospective customers with an invitation to visit your booth. Give them a reason. Use a teaser to preview your new products and programs. Make it personal. Even if these folks don’t go to the show, you will have made an impression.

Consider running ads in trade show programs and show-special magazine issues and publications. Remember to employ your show theme. Consumer magazines deadlines are two months before distribution, and Trade media at lease one month, you will have to prepare and place ads ahead of time. New Product Releases are effective when properly implemented.

THE BOOTH. Unfortunately some naive and first-time exhibitors consider a low-budget cardboard sign pinned to a backdrop curtain and a table sufficient! Your trade show booth reflects the image of your firm and the quality of your products. Remember, you are in competition for attention, so no matter how good your products are, if presented poorly, your firm will be perceived as a second rate company. This does not mean you need to have an expensive custom display booth built. There are many creative options that a professional consultant can help with a creative presentation and booth options to fit your budget.

COLLATERAL. Laying out a stack of product catalogs or price lists is a waste of time and money. Have something new, different and exciting to promote. Having professionally designed collateral tied in with your theme will have the greatest impact and create a lasting impression. Most literature ends up in hotel wastebaskets, so you will need to be creative to make an impression.

WHO’S GOING from your business and what are their objectives? Selecting the personnel who will represent your company is important. Equally as important is how they will represent your company and promote sales. I recommend an orientation with an outline covering dress code, positions on controversial topics and what their mission is. This is to avoid conflicts and provide unified presentation.

AN INCENTIVE. Call it a “Show Special”, “Introductory Offer” or a “Volume Discount”, but you will need a reason that will motivate prospective buyers to place orders. There are many different ideas that have been successful and a lot that have flopped. Here again an experienced marketing professional will work with you to explore options and possibilities.

FOLLOW-UP…is the most important aspect of trade show involvement and where sales result. There are two phases of follow-up; right after the show and a subsequent follow-up time for maximum response. Follow-up campaigns depend on many factors such as interest, competition and marketing situation. Developing the right program is where a marketing consultant will be helpful.

PROFESSIONAL HELP. Each company’s product line, budget and marketing strategy is different. The bottom line is to maximize your response and get a return from your trade show investment. Your business needs a professional. In all of the elements above it is recommended that a Marketing Consultant with tradeshow experience assist you in developing and implementing a comprehensive trade show plan. A marketing professional will work with management and staff by lending outside objectivity, marketing expertise and creativity to designing and implementing the most effective tradeshow “package” that meets your objectives and budget. Tom Smisek Marketing Consultant provides a Trade Show Tune-Up Consultation to advise and put objectives into perspective. For more information 714-649-2528