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If you’re like most technology company CMOs, you’re dreading that upcoming trade show—another week of manning a cramped booth in the exhibit hall, hoping people will stop by so you can beg for business cards. You know the drill: stale-smelling hotel rooms, glib competitors, boring network gatherings and the sinking feeling that you won’t come away with solid leads.
You’d probably prefer to cancel all conferences and trade shows, but they work; 38% of trade show attendees say their buying decisions are influenced when visiting exhibits.1
Resist the temptation to rush and exhibit at the next available trade show. You have a more important task.
You should still attend the conference, but only to gather intelligence. Rather than being constricted to a 10x10 booth, you’re now free to perform advance reconnaissance. What are your competitors doing? How big is their exhibit space? How are they promoting themselves throughout the conference? Which company stands out and why? Which tactics attract decision makers?
Take lots of notes and photos. This is the crucial fact-finding phase, an opportunity to obtain information, observe best practices to prepare for the next step.
The biggest mistake exhibitors make is not having a plan. They often show up, hang a banner in a booth and try to make contacts. But they usually do this without a strategic blueprint.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never arrive at your destination. During this step, take the time to create specific and measurable goals. Some sample goals might be:
Don’t try to do everything. Narrow your focus. Decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Then, design all marketing communications and public relations tactics to deliver on your objectives.
If your objective is to turn heads in the exhibit hall, then think big. Reserve the largest booth space you can afford and snap up premium high-traffic placement. Install a large-screen monitor, couches and demonstration kiosks to engage your target audiences and make them feel welcome.
Expand your presence by sponsoring a meal or session at the conference, which often permits you to introduce a keynote speaker and distribute collateral demonstrating your expertise. You can pay extra to have strategic communications materials delivered to participants’ hotel rooms.
Some companies stage their own event outside of the conference activities, such as an invitation-only dinner or a social affair at a local restaurant or nightclub.
In addition to potential clients, be sure to extend a hand to the many media representatives who frequently attend technology trade shows.
Exhibitors are usually provided with contact information for all conference attendees, including the media. This will enable to you to contact media influentials prior to the event. As part of your media relations strategy, send influencers a special invitation offering a “sneak peek” of your new product. Consider extending a media exclusive.
Here are some easy-to-implement ideas to help make an impact.
Invite two or three current satisfied customers to help staff your exhibit space. Pay their way and they’ll be pleased to provide in-person testimonials to everyone visiting your booth. Happy customers make the best sales people. This is an extremely effective way to promote your product or service.
We can help you.
LAVIDGE experts can help your company develop a strategy to leverage events to showcase your B2B technology expertise, product and brand.
Ready for a one-on-one discussion? Give us a call at 480.998.2600 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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