As you get ready to exhibit at your next trade show or conference, are you doing everything you can to maximise your returns from the event? There are several things you can do to help make the event worth your time and energy. Here are our 10 top tips for achieving the best outcome, including preparation, what to do during the event, and how to harness data from your exhibition to improve your performance for next time.
Before you commit to a specific event, take some time to consider what you hope to get out of your investment. Are you looking to generate new enquiries, make sales, increase your brand awareness, connect with new partners, or attract website visitors? Your objectives will help shape how you approach the event.
Your time and expense budget won't let you attend every single event in your field, so you have to do some critical thinking about which events are worth it for you. Talk to the event organisers about their past events, attendance levels, who their target audience is, and the costs of attending. You'll also need to consider the location and factor in travel costs if it's not nearby.
Exhibiting at an event is more likely to pay off if you can save money on the exhibitor fees. Talk to the event organisers to discuss ways you could bring value to the event - can you help with marketing, offer them a discount on your services, or some other arrangement that will get you a discounted stand?
Once you've signed up for an event, it's time to prepare for the big day. Go over the story you want to tell, and make sure it's tailored to the event's specific audience and also to the objectives we mentioned in tip #1. If you're selling products at your stand, make sure they're packaged attractively and conveniently. If you're selling a service, find a way to "productise" it so that visitors can easily understand and purchase what you offer.
Set yourself up for success by leveraging your existing customer and prospect database leading up to the event. Use your CRM to run email and social media campaigns around the event. In many cases, event organisers can provide you with marketing materials to make your outreach easier.
Track event registrations and contact the confirmed attendees. Offer them time-specific meeting slots, let them know exactly how to get to your stand, and think about offering an event-specific incentive.
Your stand's appearance and layout are critical to attracting event attendees, fully engaging them, and reaching your objectives. Make your displays eye-catching, offer refreshments or a promotional item, and adopt an interested, outgoing appearance yourself. Be assertive in grabbing the attention of people passing by, rather than waiting for them to approach you. And perhaps most importantly, capture visitor data in your CRM, either directly on the spot or on a written list that you can enter in later.
Don't ignore other exhibitors in favour of event attendees - some of your fellow exhibitors could prove to be potential customers, valuable future suppliers, partners, and connections.
Your work isn't done when the exhibition is over: using the data you've captured in your CRM, contact everyone who visited your stand. Thank-you emails, LinkedIn invitations, and post-event incentives are all ways to capitalise on your event investment.
The final step after the exhibition is to analyse the results of all your hard work. Calculate your total costs to attend the event (stand, travel, supplies, etc.), and compare those costs to the leads you generated, products you sold during the event, and website orders after the event. Based on your objectives, decide whether the results made the event worthwhile and whether you'll attend again.
Having a solid CRM is invaluable to exhibition success. From using your current customer data to invite potential attendees, to capturing new data during the event, to analyzing your results after the event, your CRM is key. Catalystica can be the perfect partner in setting up your CRM; contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Andy Barton is the founder of Catalystica and a sales & marketing technology leader. When he’s not helping his clients, you can find him researching the latest business & technology trends or watching F1 & MotoGP - he's a petrol-head at heart!