Call me old fashioned but I firmly believe that everyone that attends a trade show on behalf of their company should have specific show objectives to drive the trade show and company ROI. Furthermore, these objectives should be written down and approved by a senior manager before anyone is allowed to attend the show.
Following the show each attendee should be required to write a short report listing their accomplishments against their attendance objectives.
Here are some general “examples” that merit trade show attendance:
- Attend specific scientific presentations (lectures and poster sessions).
- Meet specific speakers, develop relationships and/or introduce them to company personnel.
- Visit competitors and learn their new technology if possible. Oftentimes, this can be done before or after the show hours if you are willing to reciprocate.
- Observe and learn new technology.
- Meet key industry leaders to learn “customer requirements”.
- Setup focus groups with a professional moderator.
- Perform competitive analysis on new product introductions, product positioning and focus, booth traffic, messaging etc.
- Reserve booth space in a prime or the best available location.
- Ensure the booth design is “inviting” and encourages attendees to enter.
- Conduct pre-show promotion to ensure booth attendee traffic.
- Conduct in-booth activities to draw attendees to your booth. Within healthcare lectures and videos are effective. Free beverages are a draw but usually only for the beverages.
- Schedule media exposure for executive management.
- Use the show to conduct advisory board meetings and market research.
- Schedule meetings with the company’s top customers.
- Meet potential distribution partners.
- Schedule meetings with distribution partners.
- Develop sales ready leads with potential customers.
- Make each exhibit visitor feel important. They may not be a customer today but could be in the future or perhaps they could influence a sale. For example, within healthcare it’s not unusual for a spouse to walk the exhibit hall.
- Make key industry contacts with other senior leaders.
- Foster relationships with the trade associations’ leadership.
- Meet and greet the company’s top customers.
- Observe overall company performance at the show: perception, image, professionalism etc.
- Look for threats and opportunities.
- Meet industry analysts to build credibility.
- Create media exposure by meeting with the press.
Time at a trade show must be used wisely. You and your product are not there to make an appearance. You are there to generate awareness, interest and sales.
- At the end of each day you should conduct a debrief meeting to discuss what every company attendee has learned, objectives that were met and objectives for the next day. Following the meeting conduct a post-show evaluation. Review what was learned from the written reports and develop next step actions. Lastly, calculate your ROI from the show. Spend your money wisely and reap the benefits.