The modern trade show booth is hardly what it used to be. Sophisticated pop up sets create elaborate spaces out of a few rolling trunks worth of stuff. Many booths include custom carpeting and large video display boards. Giveaways of electronics like iPods, Wii’s and GPS units are standard. No one is going to dispute that putting on a great tradeshow booth is an art. So why allow your marketing department to shlep out that same boring collateral three years in a row?
Before the show
The effort to drive quality prospect traffic to your booth isn’t a trivial task. Planning for a quality showing starts months before. Get a list of likely attendees or past attendees from the sponsor. Do a targeted mailing to those with titles that match your ideal customer. Offer them a “reward” for bringing the card you mailed them to your booth. At a trade show I attended last year one savvy organization offered chair massages to anyone who brought in either the advance mailing postcard they sent attendees or a flyer they were handing out at their break out sessions. Who couldn’t use a free 15 minute chair massage after sleeping in a hotel bed 3 straight nights at a conference?
So you have generated traffic and it is be qualified either by title or by those who attended a special event. So now that you have them at the booth you want to have a white paper, case study or solution overview that is branded specifically for the event they are attending. A special report with a title like “Three examples of how companies who attended XYZ tradeshow in 2008 saved $12 million dollars on average” will get peoples attention. They will want to hear more.
I caution against your only form of information in your booth being a demo you are projecting on some mammoth big screen monitor. Those monitors showing screen shots of your application or business processes are flashy to look at but I can’t tell you the number of times I have been setting up down the row from someone whose flat panel got mishandled in packaging or crashed during booth set up. I know from experience that renting a replacement on-site is about as expensive as replacing one at the local electronics store. My American Express was smoking for a week from the cost.
Another no less significant reason is the Psychology & Marketing study titled Memory for Advertising and Information Content: Comparing the Printed Page to the Computer Screen which found 79% of participants had excellent print format recall, whereas only 49% of participants were able to remember the same information from screens. With all the other distractions bombarding the booth traffic you are getting the last thing you want it to only be remembered 49% of the time.
Then follow up after the show both in email and hardcopy with a targeted case study or white paper specific to the prospects industry. Invite them to a webinar where you dive further into your solution. Call to just ask if their return travel was smooth. In short, don’t leave them hanging. Because sales reps staff the booth are frequently not assigned to the territory, account or division that is actually responsible for following up those leads need to be handed off efficiently. Calling six months later with no specific information about what was discussed at the show isn’t going to get you a conversion from prospect to customer.
Organizations spend thousands of dollars on booth space at tradeshows. If they followed these simple steps:
- Advance mailing with incentive for stopping by the booth
- Specific result oriented collateral
- Both print and electronic detail information
- Timely follow up
The investment they make will have a much higher likelihood of getting them a return on their investment.