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Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 1

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Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 1

Every spring and fall, the trade show and event season gears up with a flurry of activity, hype and promise. It’s an easy trap to fall into with the lure of event venues, popular keynote speakers and even the pressure to “be there” because your competition will be. But, before you jump right in, take the time to determine how trade shows can be a strategic marketing component for your business and then decide how best to approach them.

The right show with the right audience
Determining which shows make sense for your business will require some effort on your part. Research those that match up well with your buying market so that you can decide what type of presence is necessary for your company. Take into consideration opportunities beyond exhibiting such as landing a spot as a speaker and strategically participating in networking sessions throughout the event. Don’t just go to a show, throw up a booth and expect instant success. Be smart and selective.

An action plan with clearly stated goals
Once you have identified the trade shows that match up well with your offerings, define your show objectives early on and use those objectives as the drivers for everything you do in preparation and execution of your trade show presence. This includes agreeing on what you hope to accomplish, how you will meet your goals and the measurements necessary to ensure the objectives are met. Your action plan will help keep you focused on the primary goal of participating in the target event.

Gain visibility and be known
With your initial plans in place for your trade show, you’ll want to turn your attention to promotion opportunities available to boost your show visibility. Through pre-show mailers, e-blasts and at-show promotions, your company will have several opportunities to make attendees aware of your participation. Give them a reason to visit your booth, attend your presentation session and meet with you at the networking events.

The 3 second rule
When planning for your exhibit display, keep in mind that you have only 3-5 seconds to capture the attention of those walking the aisles. Visually stunning graphics with a few key message points will help make the connection to those you want to draw into your display area. Attempting to tell your entire business story on a booth is a mistake – leave that error to your competitors! And, plan an exhibit that is inviting, open and free-flowing. This will allow for a more pleasant visitor experience.

Trinkets and trash are for amateurs
Why spend money on giveaways that will end up in the trash or given to the family dog to chew up after the show? Choose giveaways with a purpose and that reflect well on your company and brand. Make it relevant and meaningful to your business. Cheap stuff of inferior quality will not bode well. Go with substance that makes a great first impression.

Part 2 of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events” will cover team preparations, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.

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