Just like the best advertising campaigns never leave the television screens, the best trade show exhibitors are constantly planning for the next big event. The advice in this section will help ensure that your trade show exhibit isn’t just a success, but a success that can be measured, calculated for ROI, and repeated in the future.
The importance of preparing responsibilities
When you’re managing a trade show exhibit and a business, it can tempting to jump back and forth between your responsibilities at the event and your responsibilities at the office.
Instead of trying to balance two full-time jobs, delegate your office responsibilities and focus entirely on the trade show. Single-tasking is the key to success at a trade show – not poorly managed multitasking.
If you’re exhibiting with several other staff members, spend some time going over each person’s responsibilities in the weeks before the show. Assign tasks based on your staff’s strengths – for example, give your sales staff the job of interacting with prospects as they enter your booth, and your customer service staff the job of giving out promotional material and giveaway items.
The best trade show exhibits are staffed by people with a diverse range of skills. For this reason, it’s worth bringing technical staff to trade shows, as they can answer a lot of product-related questions that sales staff may struggle with.
Whether you’re exhibiting at the event purely to generate sales leads or to establish your brand, making sure that your staff are fully invested in the event (and that their day-to-day job applications are covered by their colleagues) is vital for success.
Prepare according to the trade show’s audience
Just as half of advertising success is finding the right audience to market to, half of trade show success is preparing the right approach for the right type of event.
There are two different types of trade show that your business may want to exhibit at: vertical trade shows and horizontal trade shows. While both types of event have advantages, they require a different approach to deliver a positive ROI.
Vertical trade shows bring together a wide range of attendees within a very specific industry. These trade shows are generally attended by businesses at every level of the supply chain, from manufacturers to wholesalers to distributors to retailers.
Example: The ad:tech events are vertical trade shows targeted at the advertising industry. They attract a very narrow demographic (advertising industry vendors and purchasers) but attract attendees from every level of the supply chain.
Horizontal trade shows bring together attendees from a wide range of different industries, often at just one point on the supply chain. An example of a horizontal trade show is a wholesale convention with thousands of diverse vendors.
Example: The Canton Fair is a horizontal trade show targeted at a wide variety of retailers that import products from China. The event attracts a wide demographic and the majority of exhibitors are vendors (manufacturers and wholesalers).
Keep the type of show that you’re attending in mind when you choose whether or not a particular trade show is worth attending. You can see if a certain trade show has opportunities for your business by looking at the list of exhibitors.
If a trade show has too broad an audience, you may not benefit from it as much as you would a more specialised event. Remember that trade shows are measurable marketing, and that money spent on a trade show that doesn’t suit your business could be better spent on a show that would deliver a higher ROI on future sales.