A trade show is a big investment. However, there is nothing like talking to prospects face-to-face and seeing them try out your products or services in person. Whether it's the upcoming Athletic Business Conference & Expo, or any of the other shows in our industry, here a few tips to help you make the most of your trade show investment before you ever arrive on-site or set up your booth.
1. Get the Word Out
It may seem obvious, but it's important to spread the word out about your presence at the show. Use your own marketing channels — social media, email, maybe direct mail — to let your customers know you'll be at the show and what products you'll have on display. Of course, you'll want to reach people who aren't in your existing network. We've seen first-hand with some of our partners how advertising in trade magazines — or the multimedia services they offer — before the show pays dividends come show time. Trade media is a great way to get people excited about your presence at an upcoming show.
2. Tap Into the Show's Marketing Efforts
Read up on the show you'll be attending. If there is a free or discounted pass for trade show only attendees, it might be worth passing that information on to your customers. Some shows also offer incentives to exhibitors who bring additional attendees to the show.
3. Seek out Social Media
Take advantage of the show's social media efforts. Use the show's official hashtag (ABC's this year is #ABCnola) to get your message in front of attendees. At ABC, we often retweet and share messages from our exhibitors, helping them spread the word about their presence at the show. Additionally, follow the show's official social media accounts. This will help keep you in the loop on announcements and tips before, during and after the show.
4. Think About Your Booth
Is your booth drawing people in or is it set up in a way that's keeping people out? Tables set up on the outside of a booth can act as a barrier. Try moving them inside your booth to draw people in. Also consider removing chairs from your booth. When standing, you're much more likely to approach people who pass by. Finally, make sure your signage is easy to read and makes the casual attendee want to learn more about what you offer. These are all things to consider before you arrive at the show.
5. Create a Dedicated Web Page
Attendees at the show are going to seek you out online. Is your website ready for them? Creating a dedicated page for the specific trade show can help you communicate a cohesive message between your presence at the show and your content online.
6. Add a Personal Touch
In tip no. 1 we mentioned getting the word out. Mass communications like email, social media and direct mail can be very effective. However, for some of your top customers — especially ones in the region of the show — reaching out with a personal invitation may be worth the extra effort.
7. Sponsorship Opportunities
Give your presence an extra boost by sponsoring one of the events or special aspects of the show. It will require an extra investment, but the additional exposure can help you stand out from your competitors and drive traffic to your booth.
After putting on the Athletic Business Conference & Expo 34 times, these are just a few tips we've seen over the years that have proven to be effective. Hopefully they'll work for you, whether that's at our show in November or any of the other shows in this industry.