Having a presence at an industry trade show can be one of the most expensive B2B marketing tactics in your annual program. But it’s no longer enough to just show up, exhibit and leave. Here are six trade show tips to help you maximize return on your investment and, in some cases, even reduce your costs.
- Be a speaker at the conference. A conference speaking gig positions you as an industry leader and creates instant credibility. At the end of the presentation, announce a special offer or event at your booth to drive attendees there.
- Host a hospitality suite schmooze-fest with an industry guru, trade journal editor, or other leader at a nearby hotel and invite customers and prospects. This can cost less than an exhibit, and, if it’s well-executed, your customers and prospects will never forget it and you.
- Send email or direct mail to attendees before the show, inviting them to the hospitality suite or your booth to receive a special gift, new industry whitepaper, product or service offering, etc. Send follow-up messages after the show. While this tactic can add 10-20% to your show expenses, it gives you more marketing touch points and can yield a 30-50% or more increase in response rate. Spend the money!
- Create a one-on-one meeting space for private meetings with key people and customers. Schedule these in advance and make sure the right people are at the meeting. You can hold these in your booth or in a nearby hospitality suite. Studies show that many companies now primarily use trade shows to improve and maintain existing relationships.
- Minimize the amount of promo items and brochures you hand out at your booth. Instead, scan the attendees’ contact information and send them a custom package after the show. They will thank you for lightening their load, you get another marketing touch point after the show, and you fulfill a promise when you follow-through.
- Team up with alliance partners to create a “new” offering at a trade show. If you exhibit every year, this can help add value to your customers and your partners by showing them something new. You can also do a cost-split with the partners for your trade show expenses.
What’s your favorite trade show trick?