"How shall I think when I want to exhibit at a trade show?" I get this question quite often from our friends. Below you find some advice on how you could think and act to get tangible results when exhibiting at a trade show.
Trade shows are events organised around a specific industry or type of product, such as the World Mobil Congress or IAA for commercial vehicles. They are an excellent opportunity for companies to build new contacts, to network and to demonstrate their latest products and services. However, without careful planning, these events can be a waste of your time and money.
With digital opportunities and diverse online retailing capabilities, many marketers forget the value of personal interaction. There must be a good reason why almost every major city has convention centres. Although we are all benefiting from the digital transformation, trade shows are still significant. They are powerful platforms to take the customer experience to a higher level. Your exhibit space is much more than just a place to greet potential and existing customers. It's an interactive space where your current and future customers can get to know your business, your products and your people. Trade shows are an opportunity for your audience to get first hand experience of your offer. Thus, trade shows are still valuable in times where the power of buying has shifted—from the seller to the buyer.
The first thing you should think about is the overall purpose of why you should exhibit at a particular trade show in the first place. The main reason to exhibit on trade shows should be to connect with potential new customers, and to strengthen the relationship with existing customers, rather than just presenting your products or services. Often exhibitors participate at a trade show to showcase new products and services but even more important is to put the customer in the center.
Be specific about why you are exhibiting at trade shows and what you want to achieve. For example, think of:
It is crucial to understand attendees and their reasons for attending a trade show. If you do not know what they want out of their trade show experience, then you cannot successfully meet their needs. Based on our experience, attendees come to trade shows to get exposure to new trends and gain knowledge. They want to see what is new and have a chance to interact with experts in their field.
As an exhibitor, ask yourself the following questions in advance:
Planning is essential for the trade show to be worthwhile. The preparation begins long before the event takes place. If we are planning events for our clients, we use the same approach as we use for online activities—the inbound methodology.
"The inbound methodology is a circle. It focuses on how to build a flywheel that attracts, engages, and delights — creating an inbound business that puts customers first."
First, think about activities for how you can attract visitors to register to attend the trade show. Focus on your buyer personas.
Now it is time to engage with your leads.
The trade show usually does not end on the last day of the trade show. After the trade show, the goal is to have satisfied customers and turn them into promoters. Only happy customers will recommend you—and hopefully generate more visits to your booth at the next trade show you exhibit at.
I have compiled these tips in a PowerPoint presentation. Feel free to download the presentation below.