Getting a positive ROI from a conference or expo show is hard work. Or is it?
The benefits of exhibiting at an expo show can surpass many marketing efforts. Business deals generate billions of dollars in profit at trade shows every year. The biggest and best trade show booths definitely have the edge, but not all are successful.
Some businesses seem to have the secret recipe for networking at trade shows.
It’s no secret, it’s this: Booth success is measured by how much effort you want to put into it.
While marketing is responsible for developing the conference strategy, your sales team also has a major role to play. For things to run smoothly, marketers need to understand and work the needs of sales into the conference game plan.
Sales representatives are always looking for a hook, something that compels prospects to take interest in their product/service. Conference shows are a fantastic opportunity to do just that.
What specific strategies are behind successful trade show booths?
Tip #1: Educate and engage Your Sales Team
They’ll need to know how to get the most out of your exhibit booth:
- What you’re exhibiting
- Why your booth is set up the way it is
- What materials will be available for distribution
- Any other special elements, such as conference “swag” or giveaways
Request from your sales team any useful client information that will help them generate business. Do they have a VIP attending? Is there a big deal pending? Ask for background on any special attendees who may need a little extra attention.
Prepare sample emails for the sales team to send to their email list with a schedule for special activities that will occur, including: VIP visits, contests or special presentations.
Build excitement and keep your team informed. This ensures everyone is prepared mentally when they get to the event. Plus, it allows your sales team to talk about the exhibit to clients and prospects ahead of time.
Tip #2: Get To Know The Sales Pitch Ahead of the Exhibit Time
Make a list of all of your product’s features (or business services) and a second list of how each feature (or service) brings value to your customers. Identifying the pain points of your customers helps your sales team address their needs more readily and thoroughly.
Define the different types of influencers who will attend the show and identify their unique motivations. Create a pitch for each type of customer that your trade show booth sales staff will likely encounter at the show.
Have the team practice these key points before show time. Do a walk-through of the pitch process at the booth. Let your sales team become well versed in the flyers and pamphlets being handed out.
Tip #3: Have a Solid Strategy
Now that the sales team understands what they are pitching, make sure they understand your conference strategy before the event begins.
Your sales team should have an idea of who is coming to the conference and should create a target list of prospects they want to network with.
Here’s a few ideas to add to your conference strategy:
- Consider arranging quick meet & greets throughout the conference.
- Meet your social followers in person. Tweet/comment with them on their online posts about the conference/expo.
- Plan a few networking events (e.g. dinners, coffee meetups, hospitality suites, receptions)
- Have some special booth features to keep people at the booth for further engagement (e.g. coffee bars, wine bars, photo bars).
Tip #4: Connect – Engage, Don’t Just Pitch
Trust is built upon a foundation of commonality. Have your sales staff find common ground before launching into their sales pitch. This can be accomplished by asking open-ended questions, using chit-chat to warm up a prospect, and establishing connections based on a situation, hobbies, current events, etc. Take the time to ask about a prospect’s goals for the trade show to qualify them as potential customers.
Tip #5: Be Social Media Prepared Before the Conference
Not only do you want to already be following anyone your sales team plans on meeting at the conference, you want to have a robust social media calendar with multiple media assets ready to be posted each day. These assets should be targeted to your attendees.
Here are some reasons why you want multimedia content for social:
- Tweets with images get 35% more engagement and videos that display properly get 28% more engagement.
- On Facebook, photo posts get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs.
Now that your social media profiles are optimized, assign a social media correspondent to handle all social during the conference. They are responsible for live tweeting, posting to Instagram and/or live blog during the conference. Remember to use the official conference hashtags on posting to join the conversation and generate interest in your booth.
While these tips are just the starting point for booth success at an expo or trade show, the tips will steer you in the right direction. For a more robust strategy and game plan (social assets, sales pitch, and more), you can contact us to help your business succeed at the next conference opportunity.