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Trade Show Marketing

By: Joyce Hayne

As the BC Hospitality Industry Expo is next month, it’s timely to review some best practices to ensure your company’s success at trade shows. First you need to set a quantifiable objective for the show. Do you want to meet 50 new prospects, develop 10 qualified leads, close 5 deals, or build the loyalty of 30 existing clients? Your sales approach, the marketing material, and products in your booth will change depending on your objective. Be sure you have ordered enough high quality collateral material to hand out, but don’t bring too much, because on average 70% of trade show materials get tossed out by recipients.

If you’re planning to give away a promotional product, be sure it has a tie-in to your company. A bottle opener for a brewery, or a hand towel for a linen manufacturer makes sense, but who needs one more pen or stress ball? However, a unique promo item that people carry around the show and play with, can generate a lot of interest in your booth and increase traffic. You can also plan a fun activity in your booth to draw people in and increase the length of time prospects and clients will spend with your sales team.

You have 3 seconds at a show to pique the interest of people passing by, so your booth should instantly communicate your value proposition. Make graphics bold, ensure text is big enough to be seen from 20 feet away, and use high impact images to grab people’s attention. If you don’t, they’ll walk right past you.

Your sales team should be actively engaged in talking with people coming by your booth, so they should not sit down, be talking on a cell phone, or working on a laptop, unless they are giving a demo. This should go without saying, but I’m appalled at the number of salespeople I see each year doing one or all of these activities and then they complain that they had no traffic at their booths.

Take some time now to put together your trade show plan and enjoy the successes!