With ONS, one of Europe’s largest energy trade shows, just around the corner, companies from across the world will flock to Norway striving for the attention of prospective clients.
Getting ready for trade shows can be an overwhelming process and with recent studies showing up to 20% of marketing budgets are spent at conferences, there is pressure on marketing professionals to get it right. Here we give our top seven tips for tackling trade shows and where to focus your efforts:
1. Engage with your audience early
Many think the conference starts on the first day, but the wheels should be in motion weeks – even months – in advance. You need to engage with your audience early to ensure they know who you are and why they should seek you out. Use your owned channels to share interesting and original content in the run up to the show. This could be a series of blog posts or video content. A step often forgotten is to ensure your content is shared by your employees, using their credibility and networks to spread the word, before the conference starts.
2. Let the pros build the booth
The look of your booth is the first impression visitors will have of your company so its crucial this is done right. The best way to do this is to outsource the design and production of your booth to the pros. Although the visual aspect is important, also make sure you take into account practical requirements as well, such as quiet breakout areas, where more private sales discussions can take place.
3. Create a hit list
In advance of the conference, prepare a hit list of existing and prospective leads you want to talk to. This should include notes on what product or service you want to speak to them about. Having a targeted list means your sales team will be focused on these people and will already have the knowledge they need to start a conversation.
4. Get your show team prepared
Preparation is everything. It’s important to get the team who will represent you on the stand together, ahead of the event. This lets them familiarise with each other (especially if part of the team work in different regions) and ensure everyone is on the same page. Discuss each person’s role on the stand and establish a set of general guidelines with regards to dress code and messaging.
5. Ditch the gimmicks
Freebies, competitions to win motorbikes and scantily clad models on company stands aren’t an unfamiliar sight at trade shows. However, visitors see past gimmicks, so don’t lower the value of your messaging. Yes, have fun, but make sure you keep relevant to your business and products. Virtual reality is a huge trend this year, and can be particularly clever and effective at showing technological solutions, especially if they apply to hard to reach locations such as the seabed or inside pipes. This is what will make a lasting impression on people, not a free pen.
6. Data capture
To continue the dialogue with customers after the conference you need to know how to contact them and, hopefully, what kind of information is relevant to them. This is where data capture is vital. Use readily available software to scan participants’ badges and feed this information directly into your CRM system. This also makes it easier for your sales managers to tailor sales pitches to each lead.
7. Don’t stop after the conference
Many think it’s all over when the conference doors close, but this is when the hard work starts. Initiate a follow-up campaign directly after the show, with adapted messages for target groups. Doing follow-ups correctly, with credible material, increases the chances of the customer booking a meeting with you and this tactic means the road to securing a client is much quicker than traditional cold calling methods.