I read an article this week that stated tradeshow marketing was dead. In fact, this article written from a marketing agency discouraged their clients from getting a booth or trying to market at tradeshows and conferences. The article made some good points and really hit home the fact that most companies do not see a return on their investment.
As I read this article, it really helped me focus even more.
Marketing at tradeshows has been a key component with respect to the company I currently work at, but I am always looking for ways to make it better. I think we have taken tradeshows for granted and as a result attendance overall, is down and the price to get exhibit or sponsor has gone way up. I have been reevaluating our experiences and loooking for ways to improve exposure, communication, hand-outs and follow-ups.
Here are some notes I have made in the past year.
If you have attended a show and had a booth for a number of years, take a break and see the show through a fresh set of eyes again. I recently did this and when I went to register as an attendee, the person behind the desk was surprised we did not have a booth. As a result, the registration person gave me a special pass for a special session which he did not give to other people. If I would have purchased a booth, I would have not have paid any more extra money to attend. Shows want exhibitors on a regular basis and may throw in extra perks to get your business back.
Bring a computer bag full of “simple” handouts to give to people. Forget the trinkets and freebies, give someone some information that could be helpful to them.
Meet some rising stars. It is too easy to easy to reconnect with the people we know and get together with once a year. You never know where that connection might lead to in the future.
Learn and learn some more. Right now the trade show floor is open at the same time as the sessions being held. Where are you going to learn about your industry and hear about their needs than at an industry conference.
Keep people guessing. If you show up and smile and talk about good news, you will win over people. Stay positive! It’s too easy to go negative with a conversation.
If you happen to meet someone who is looking to buy from you, offer to meet later or in the morning before the conference starts. Very rarely will someone want to spend their day looking to buy your services during a conference. Go for the connection first and follow-up with the sale later.
Enjoy the experience and do some hard-core evaluation. I like to watch and see how my competition is doing on the floor. Look at the foot traffic by their booth. Check out their service offerings. Talk to them. Let them know who you are if you feel comfortable in your current position.
Finally, take it all in and write your thoughts down. There is a lot to see if your antenna is up and you are willing to listen and learn.