ROI Business Advisors | The 7 Keys for Turning Trade Shows into Successful Investments for your Business
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The 7 Keys for Turning Trade Shows into Successful Investments for your Business

How profitable were all the trade shows at which you exhibited last year? When you consider the financial cost, staff time and effort, is it worth it? Do you exhibit because it is a profitable customer or lead generation source or is it an expense that leaves you wondering why you exhibit at all?

Many businesses exhibit at trade shows, but few do it profitably. The following are the 7 key areas and questions on which to focus – if trade show exhibits are to be a customer or lead generation strategy for you.

1. What is your objective? – Is your objective to create leads for follow-up, sell people at the booth, or just maintain a presence in the market by exhibiting at a few key shows per year? The answers to those questions will determine your answers to the following questions. If merely having a presence was your goal, why not focus on creating leads from the booth as well?

2. Does the show you picked have a high enough concentration of members your target market? – In planning, this is the first question you need to ask to determine whether or not to exhibit at a show. If you sell mortgages, a show filled with real estate agents fits this description, for example. Also, keep in mind the attendee to exhibitor ratio, i.e. the more attendees per exhibitor, the greater the value of your booth at that show.

3. Why would people stop at your booth? – Here is another reason why planning well in advance of the show is required. By determining what is of interest to attendees at the show, you can get more people at your booth. If you can get a list of registrants, contact them before the show and invite them to your booth. Others have raffled off something of value to their target market. You must to create a reason for people not to speed by your booth without stopping.

4. What are you going to offer people at your booth that will be of interest to them and what do they want to buy? – Here is where your understanding of how your target market thinks will guide you. The key is matching what you offer to what they want to buy. Is it information they are most interested in? Don’t forget to train the salespeople and provide selling scripts before the show. They will not sell at the booth the way they normally sell, so training is important here. Also, what promotional materials will they use?

5. Are you trying to make a sale on the spot, or create a lead to close at a later time? Your industry and business model will determine this objective for you in most cases. If trying to create a lead, your entire exhibit plan must support this, including a follow-up system. If you are trying to sell someone at the booth, have everything you need to make the interaction at the booth, sale, and entire transaction as smooth and seamless as possible.

6. What is your follow-up system? – Do you have a follow-up system? Once someone stops at your booth, what are you doing to insure that new lead is followed up on? If someone buys, what is your process to get them to buy again? Your answers to these questions may provide dividends for years.

7. How could you do it better and at a lower cost per lead (or customer) next time? – Analysis after a show and after all leads (or customers buying at the booth) have been contacted, and using it to guide you in planning for future shows, can be a very valuable tool in making your next show event more profitable.

If you keep these 7 key areas in mind, the better your answers to these questions the greater your ROI on trade shows.

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