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8 Trade Show Marketing Techniques — Your Guide To Pre-Show Planning

Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows can bring your business a lot of benefits, including lead generation, brand recognition, and cost-effective advertising.

without trade show marketing leading up to the event, you won’t walk away with the results you wanted. And you need to get started long before the trade show date gets close.

Not sure where to begin?

Take a look at these pre-show marketing tips to help make your event successful.

Find Your “Why” and Set Goals

If you don’t set clear, attainable goals for your trade show, your marketing attempts-and the entire event-might not go as well as you’d hoped. How can you get the results you want if you don’t know what those are?

So the first step of trade show marketing is finding your “why” and setting goals.

Figure out exactly why you are exhibiting at this trade show. Exhibiting at a trade show is no small expense, especially at larger events. Think of the long term planning as well as the costs of the booth and space itself. Will it be worth the investment in the long run? Once you discover the reason for having your company represented at a trade show or convention, it’s time to set clear goals.

Make these goals specific.

For example, instead of saying you want to generate new leads, write down exactly how many you want, how you plan to get them, and how to follow up with them after the trade show.

This will direct your marketing efforts and set you up for success.

Design Your Message

You need to create a compelling and clear CTA before you set up your booth day-of. Otherwise, your potential leads might fall through the cracks. Even if they like your product, they won’t know how to contact you, how to buy it, or what else they should do.

Before you start marketing, design your trade show booth and message.

How will the attendees remember you? How will you stand out from the crowd? How will you represent your brand?

Answer these questions first. They might help narrow down your marketing strategy.

This, in turn, ensures your products are both valuable and different.

Start Planning Several Months in Advance

Give yourself plenty of time to plan and run marketing strategies before the trade show.

Perhaps you’re part of a law firm planning to attend a legal exhibition or law conference in your area and are looking to impress potential clients. If so, there are plenty of awesome ideas for attorney business cards that you could utilize, and getting it all sorted with plenty of time to spare is a good idea for ensuring you’re as prepared as can be.

It’s a good idea to start planning 12 months in advance. But if you can’t make this timeline work for your business, give yourself at least six months to get ready before the trade show.

Don’t wait any longer than this. If you do, you’ll end up rushing through marketing techniques, run out of time to use them effectively, and not get the results you want.

Also, it is good to build in extra time in your planning timeline to account for any setbacks you may have. There are many things that may go wrong along the way. Being prepared for worst-case scenarios will cause less stress and less last minute decisions in the event something does happen.

Pick Your Marketing Methods

One marketing campaign isn’t enough to gain attention for your trade show. Instead, you should choose multiple different methods and use them all.

Why?

Different marketing strategies will allow you to reach different audiences on different platforms. Multiple marketing campaigns are always better than one, even if that one is seemingly perfect. Having multiple marketing strategies also allows you to hit your target audience multiple times, perhaps making you stand out and be more memorable.

Here are eight types of pre-trade show marketing techniques you should consider.

1. Build a List of Outreach Contacts

Start your marketing by creating a list of contacts for outreach. These contacts can consist of your current customers, known prospects, and other contacts.

Let these people know you’re going to be at the event. But don’t stop there. You should also build up the trade show itself. This can encourage people to go if they weren’t planning on it originally.

This will also ensure you have as many potential clients and customers there as possible.

You can also build a list of registered attendees. Since they’re already going to the trade show, let them know you’ll be there and where they can find you.

2. Promote on Social Media

Social Media Marketing

Nearly 80% of people in the United States have at least one social media profile. Many of them have several. Odds are that’s also where most of your audience is, so it’s the perfect place to promote the event.

There are a few different ways you can do this.

You can post about the trade show on your social media accounts. Let your audience know what it’s all about and that you’ll be going. Inform them where exactly they can find you on the trade show floor.

Also, if you have any incentives, giveaways, or games planned, be sure to note this in your posts as well. It can build up excitement and give attendees more of a reason to stop by and visit your booth.

You can also make short videos to catch their interest.

Videos are a more exciting and interactive way to deliver your message and will also be more memorable for your audience.

But don’t rely on your posts alone.

Create some targeted social media ads as well. These ads can get clicks from a much larger audience. With targeted social media ads, such as on Facebook, you can choose the demographics, age, gender, work, education, etc. of who you want to reach with your posts.

This ensures that you are reaching exactly who you need to with your messaging.

3. Launch an Email Campaign

Launching an email campaign is a quick, cheap, and effective way to market for an upcoming trade show.

It also gives you a way to track how much engagement your emails are getting. By looking at click-through rates and open rates, you can get a good idea of how many people are interested in the event.

Your email campaign should consist of several different emails. To begin with, you should send an introductory email about the trade show to let people know that you’ll be attending.

Depending on who you are targeting with these emails, there is a chance they may not be knowledgeable about the event. Provide them with a brief summary and information about what they can expect from your company if they attend.

After that, you’ll have to send follow up emails to remind them (we’ll touch more on that below).

4. Harness the Power of SEO

seo optimization

Don’t forget to use the power of SEO in whichever marketing strategy you choose.

For example, create a sharable blog post on your website announcing that you will be exhibiting at the trade show. Be sure to find the right keyword density, write attention-grabbing headers, and use appropriate images. Also, make sure the page is SEO optimized in terms of titles, length, linking, etc.

When using Google Ads, they won’t be very effective if you don’t know what type of trade show keywords people are searching for.

Do your research.

Find out what it is people are searching for, and make sure your ads and campaigns are all SEO optimized to meet the needs of what your audience is searching for.

5. Send Direct Mail

While direct mail marketing may not be as common as email marketing, it’s far from dead. In fact, sending direct mail to your contacts can be an effective way to make them aware of your event. Saying this though, if you have a number of contacts across various platforms and you know it will take a long time to send an email to each person, using programs that provide a contact syncing feature can make this a whole lot easier.

Here’s how.

By sending something like a postcard-especially one in an interesting shape, you put the trade show on people’s minds long before it happens. But not only that, the postcard stays in their house. That means, depending on where they keep it, they’ll see it every day.

This not only reminds them of the event, but it can also build excitement.

While this is a good strategy for anyone, it works best for people you already know will be attending the event. So find that list you made of the trade show register attendees and send them some direct mail.

6. Use Targeted Marketing Methods

There are a few, more targeted marketing methods you can also use when it comes to trade shows.

For example, you can work with the trade show managers to get discounted registration fees or free passes. You can then offer these to your customers to help encourage them to show up.

Save these for people you know will be high-potential visitors. Then, if you can, set up appointments for these people during the trade show. You can even set up a smaller event for your customers during the trade show itself.

Let yourself get creative with targeted marketing approaches.

7. Build a Landing Page

You may want to consider building a trade show landing page. Make sure this page includes your CTA and more information about the event. You may also want to include extra resources your customers might find helpful.

Most importantly, like in any email marketing you may do, state where your trade show booth will be located at the event. This makes it easy for those who are interested to find you during the show. You want to make it easy as possible for potential clients to find you, or they won’t bother to go out of their way at all.

If you do choose to create a landing page, don’t forget to make the landing page mobile-friendly.

After all, almost 60% of all internet searches come from mobile phones. If your content isn’t responsive, you might lose a potential client.

8. Follow up with People

Remember when we said you would have to follow up with people as part of your marketing campaign? Don’t forget this step! Otherwise, people who were planning to go might forget and not make it.

So here’s what you need to do.

  • Three Months Before the Trade Show

Email your contacts a “save the date” notice. Make sure you include your booth number and any incentives in this email.

  • One Month Before the Trade Show

Create some social media posts that have the date and your booth number. If you’ll be using any hashtags during the event, include these in the posts as well.

  • Three Weeks Before the Trade Show

Send out another email with all the information your guests will need to know. This includes things like your booth number, promotional giveaways, CTAs, and more.

  • One Week Before the Trade Show

Make several social media posts about the trade show to keep people updated. You can post about your booth number, other highlights about the show, information about the surrounding area, trade show tips, and giveaways.

  • The Last Days Before the Trade Show

Use your social media to post pictures of you traveling to the event. Take pictures of you setting up your booth, and create “almost time” pictures to share.

Set a Marketing Budget

Before you get carried away with these pre-trade show marketing strategies, make sure you set a marketing budget. If you don’t, the costs can add up fast.

Picking the Best Trade Show Marketing Tips

If you don’t take the time to do some pre-show marketing before your event, you won’t get the results you want. Trade show marketing is one of the most important parts of your event, so don’t forget to start early!

Need some help getting ready for your trade show?

We can help! Click here to take a look at some of our trade show services.

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10 Trade Show Booth Design Tips To Make The Most Of Your Exhibition

Exhibit Design

Picture the scene: You set up your little trade show booth table, add a plate full of cookies and feel ready for the day. But right next to you, a huge company giant sets up a glorious display that puts your humble booth to shame.

Why do these business giants put in so much effort? According to stats, 80% of visitors said they would buy a product or service that they interacted with at a trade show.

Yes, making your trade show booth a success can get you a lot of new customers. And that’s what makes them worth the investment.

But you don’t have to feel intimated by those huge company giants. The key is to create an awesome trade show booth design that will make YOUR brand stand out in the crowd.

How can you make it a success? Read on for the best trade show booth design tips that will give those company giants a run for their money.

1. Stay On-Brand

Of all the trade show booth design best practices, this is something you should never forget. Stay on-brand!

Forbes said this about branding, “Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products.”

Your branding defines your company and should run throughout every aspect of it. From your business card to your printed marquee to your website, your branding should be visible. It’s the key to successful marketing.

You could incorporate all the best booth ideas on this planet. But there is nothing worse than a trade show booth design that is irrelevant. It may even cause confusion among visitors.

Keep your branding clear and consistent throughout the entire booth area. From banners and the t-shirts or enamel pins you’re giving out as freebies to interactive experiences and leaflets, make sure you stick to your theme.

2. Master Your First Impression

trade show first impression

According to research, you only have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. But with so much competition at trade shows, you’ve probably got a shorter window. If you want your brand to stand out from the rest, you need to create a visually engaging booth.

Bright colors can help you to stand out, but only if they are matching your brand. Having bold designs and a big banner as well as interactive displays can catch the eyes of the crowds.

Huge props can also draw attention. For example, if your company has a connection to vehicles, bring in a car to display. Make it part of the booth design, or use it as part of an experience.

A really cool way to create a visually engaging booth is to set a scene.

3. Set the Scene

Create an entire scene that has its own vibe. Think about it for a second. If your trade show booth was a place, where would it be?

For example, if you’re in the tourism field you could create a vacation destination scene. Start off with a tropical looking backdrop and include deck chairs, inflatable pool toys and more. Complete it with a vacation themed photo booth with props and you’ll have customers lining up to join in the fun.

Even if your company doesn’t have as much scope, you can still create a fun experience. You can also buy medicines online at a bargain price. For example, a tech-based company could create a coffee shop scene where they can try out products while they sip on a free brew.

If the visual effects don’t attract customers, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee will!

4. Professional Presentation

professional trade show booth

But while you’re creating your trade show booth design, don’t forget the basics. You may get carried away with all the bells and whistles, but a trade show booth is nothing without a grand presentation area.

This is especially important if you are giving a speech, showing a presentation or demonstrating a product. To make your presentation area stand out, you will need:

  • A small stage with a spotlight
  • A podium (for your notes)
  • A large screen to show a digital presentation
  • High-quality mic and speakers
  • A good internet connection (for online streaming and Q&A sessions)

Once you’ve got the right set-up, you’ll be ready for a grand presentation. But without this, you may find yourself lost in the crowd.

5. Game Time

Many trade show booths follow the same pattern and can cause attendees eyes to glaze right over your booth. Give visitors something they can play with and enjoy.

Some products are easier to turn into games than others. For instance, anyone selling video games or consoles can set up a gaming area. If it’s not so clear how to turn your product into a game, you may need to get creative.

If you’re selling beauty products, have a guessing game where the winner wins a free makeover. Try a prize golfing putt experience to win a prize. Or simply roll a huge dice to win a competition.

If games aren’t appropriate to your brand, try a unique experience instead.

For example, Charity Water created an experience their visitors will never forget. They invited attendees to walk with two large jugs of water to give them the same experience as villagers in developing nations. This experience, no doubt, touched the heart of many booth visitors and encouraged them to donate.

Of course, whatever experience you come up with, it must match with your brand. Relevance is key!

6. Go Digital

Creating a digital experience can attract people to your booth. If it’s exciting enough it may draw in crowds.

But, not all brands are as simple to display as others. You’ll have to think outside the box to make your brand interactive.

Touch screens are one of the best pieces of tech to incorporate into your trade show booth design. They can display almost any kind of business.

Another great idea is to create a virtual reality experience. Online live streamings, video walls, and live presentations are also great techniques. They can create an interactive experience that will draw in the crowds.

7. Create Walking Ads

You and your team should wear promotional merchandise as you walk around the event. But it’s not only your team that can do advertising for you. Handing out free swag to trade show visitors will turn each wearer into a walking advertisement.

It’s always beneficial to give out swag that actually serves a purpose. Some great merchandise ideas include:

  • USB flash drives
  • Powerbanks
  • Big stickers
  • Balloons
  • Wearables (t-shirts, rubber bracelets, hats)
  • Bags

Make sure your trade show booth displays your swag so that it’s visible to the crowd. The aim should be to draw them in, not to pick up freebies and walk on by.

8. Be Generous

As well as swag and branded merchandise, another trade show booth design trick is to be hospitable. Entice potential clients into your booth by giving a warm welcome with your generosity.

For example, have a relaxing area with bean bags or comfy chairs. Give out free beverages, such as tea, coffee or even bottles of water. When the customer feels “at home” and relaxed, they may be more inclined to chat about your products.

If you’re in the food industry, giving out free samples should be a major part of your trade show strategy. You could even combine this with a demonstration of how to make one of your delights, or how to use it in a recipe.

The plate of cookies mentioned at the offset wasn’t a bad idea after all!

9. Take Advantage of the Area

exhibit design

Whether your booth is small or large, make the most of the space you have. Some trade show locations are tight for space, but the ceilings are high. Why not build up to use every square foot to your advantage.

You could use huge vertical banners or tie huge floating balloons. Or you could even build an upstairs section to your booth.

You could use this as a hangout spot, or an area for some kind of interactive experience.

If you have more floor space, use it wisely. Have an area for chilling, an area for discussing the product or service, and somewhere they can enjoy an experience.

Don’t over clutter the area. If you’re short for space, you may need to cut a few features out. Less is more when it comes to trade show booth designs.

These ideas will make, even a small space, look grand.

10. What’s in a Name?

As mentioned, your branding is vitally important when creating your trade show booth design. But if your branding isn’t well known, some customers may not know who you represent. It’s important to display your name EVERYWHERE you possibly can, consistently.

Even globally famous brands, like Samsung, don’t take their recognizable brands for granted. They always feature their name somewhere.

Make sure your name is on your:

  • Products
  • Booth
  • Banners and signs
  • Freebies
  • Team Uniform

Having your name plastered everywhere will help potential customers to know exactly who you are and what you represent.

Steal the Show with Your Booth Design

It’s clear to see that when planning your booth design, you need to think outside the box. Unique experiences, stunning displays, and a welcoming environment can make your booth steal the show.

Now you’ve filled your head with grand ideas, what’s next? You surely can’t create an awesome booth yourself. Contact us today for the best trade show booth designs.

Are you ready? Let’s bring your idea to life!

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Jamal Lewis and Metro Exhibits Premiere on NFL Network

For Immediate Release

Jamal Lewis, former NFL champion and running back for the Baltimore Ravens will have a segment to premiere on September 13th, 2018 before the Baltimore Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. In this short video, Jamal’s incredible story post-NFL career is showcased along with his work, family, and home life. The film shows Jamal’s success in the trade show industry and in many other promising ventures due to his entrepreneurial spirit and constant drive for success.

Metro Exhibits is proud to have Jamal Lewis as our colleague and partner. His life after football has been an amazing story of perseverance, family, and friendship. Jamal is one of two former NFL stars to work with Metro Exhibits, working alongside former Giants and NFL champion Ottis “OJ” Anderson. Tune in live to the NFL Network on Thursday, September 13th to see the premiere of Jamal’s amazing story.

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14 Trade Show Marketing Ideas & Strategies

Trade Show Marketing

1. Make Your Trade Show Booth Inviting

Think of the places in your life that catch your attention and make you feel that you just can’t pass them by. Now imagine hundreds of places close to each other all vying for your attention. Reduced to its basics, that’s what a trade show is all about. That’s why the most important thing you can do is get a custom booth artfully designed by experts in attracting attention in meaningful ways. The experts at Metro Exhibits design and build custom booths to your specifications. They’re experts in what works. Remember, you’re at the show to generate leads. If you don’t capture attention, you won’t capture leads.

2. Make Your Trade Show Booth Informative

Exhibiting at a trade show is a marketing activity. Every company that exhibits has an event marketing strategy. That marketing strategy includes a position statement and product or services descriptions. Display your messages with clarity and prominence. Reinforce who you are. Make clear what new, enticing offering you’ve come to the trade show to announce. Make them feel they just can’t pass by your booth without finding out more. Font size, color, signage dimensions, placement all come into play.

3. Calculate Trade Show ROI

Watch your expenses. Is it better to purchase or rent a booth? Is it sometimes better to do one or the other, depending on the distance of the trade show from your nearest office? What about storage options for your booth that can eliminate shipping costs? International exhibitors in trade shows in the U.S. can avoid customs and other costs by storing their booths inside the country. Be smart about travel expenses for your show staff. Keep the staff as lean as you can. Be sure to take advantage of room blocks set aside by the exhibit in a timely fashion. It’s always best to book rooms early since they can always be canceled, and to book flights as early as it’s known who will attend as flight costs can go up dramatically over time.

4. Location, Location, Location

Learn how the organization holding the trade show allots floor space to exhibitors. If you have exhibited before, lobby for a better position than the one you had last year. Make it part of your negotiation. Study the show agenda. If there are breakout sessions, find out when and where they will be on the show floor. Try to position your booth where attendees will congregate for refreshments or lunch. If you do not know the venue, ask to see the layout. Find out where the educational sessions will be held and try your best to position your booth in a location that attendees will need to pass repeatedly. Ask Metro Exhibits for help. There isn’t a venue or a show where we have not done work, or do not know intimately. Every trade show has a landscape and you want to find yourself in the optimum location in that landscape.

5. Size Matters

It’s important that your booth not be much smaller than those of your competitors. But size is certainly not the only thing that matters. In fact, a large vacuous booth that is not interesting or does not make the kind of statement you are trying to use to attract and retain customers will backfire. Evaluate your options and costs. Learn as much as you can about your competitors. Study the developing Exhibitor List. Ask for it if it isn’t posted on the website. Decide what size you can afford and then consult experts in designing and building booths that make an interesting, meaningful statement. If you are looking for more space you may be interested in looking for a 24′ steel storage containers for sale and use that as your booth.

6. Be Timely with All Your Materials

Don’t miss deadlines. Nothing looks as bad as your company or product description on a loose sheet of paper slipped into the Exhibit Guide. It makes it seem as if your attendance at the show is an afterthought, or worse, that meeting deadlines is an issue at your company which may very likely surface when you deliver the product or service you are offering to customers. You will want to be stocked up on materials to ensure that every last detail of information regarding your exhibit is displayed in a professional and attractive manor. You might also be interested in merchandising and other promotional materials to help sell your business to attendees. It is all about how you present yourself. Store your descriptions in a place where you can go right to them. You want to know how your description appeared in last year’s Guide, and make changes if changes apply. Preparing for a trade show appearance requires project management. We can help. Ask about the Metro Exhibits Trade Show Checklist. We’ll send it to you.

7. Ask for the Attendee List

You know the profile of your prospective customers. You should also know your existing customers. If an updated attendee list is not available on the Exhibition’s website, ask for it. Know who is coming to the show. This is an occasion to reconnect with your existing customers. If there is an issue with any of the existing customers planning to be present, your staff at the booth should know about it. However large your company may be, don’t make it seem so large that you don’t pay attention to your customers. The prospects on the attendee list are the main reason you have invested in the trade show. You should know their names, what they look like, their positions at the company, how long they have been in those positions, the size and location of their companies, plus any other relevant details you can gather. From LinkedIn and company websites alone, there is just too much information easily accessible that you should not know as much as possible in advance about the prospects you hope to draw into your booth.

8. Send Personal Messages in Advance of the Show.

If the attendee list available to you does not include email addresses, do your best to find them out. Send out a meaningful, personal email saying something about what you will be showing and how much you are looking forward to a booth visit. The more your email message looks like a mass email sent at the last minute, the less effective it will be. Remember, every action you take is a marketing action that creates an impression. Every marketing action should be aimed at achieving your sales goal. This is the reason you have invested in the trade show. Before sending all of these emails, it might be worth investing in an exchange monitoring software to make sure your mailbox has the capacity for all of the emails you’ll be sending and receiving. This will help you monitor the performance of your mailbox, helping you to gather more potential clients.

9. Be an Active Listener on the Trade Show Floor

When a prospect enters the sphere of your booth, deliver your message for sure, but also listen actively to what the prospect says. Take notes on the back of the prospect’s business card, or on an iPad after the conversation ends. Write down questions you were asked or trace where the conversation led, even in non-business directions. These details will be useful in your follow-up. In your email or telephone follow-up, you may have to remind the prospect that you met. It’s easier to do that with specific details. Answering real questions is your first delivery on your company’s offering. Make it work.

10. Get the Post-Show Attendee List

This list will include late sign-ups and walk-ins. Find out how long it will take to get this list. Don’t wait for the list to do your follow-ups. You already have the last published attendee list before the show. Most of the names will be on that list. When you do get the post-show list you can always compare and do the same follow up to this smaller list of additions.

11. You Must Follow Up

The attendees at the show fall into two groups: those who stopped by your booth and those who did not stop by. Both groups include your existing clients and prospects. Usually, different people at the company are responsible for clients and prospects. Let’s focus on the prospects. Send them personalized emails including details about your conversation. If you were asked a question, answer it. The goal here is to get an exchange going. Because emails can be sent out quicker than phone calls can be made, send emails first and follow up with phone calls. Rate your prospects from top to bottom. If you cannot get to all of them in a timely fashion, contact the most promising first. You should, however, get to them all, because when a lead turns into a sale is not always dependent on your offering. It often depends on the prospect’s timing, which is not always apparent. Remember, the entire reason you have invested in the trade show is to generate leads. Eventually, someone will compare the cost of the show to how much business was generated. If you don’t follow up effectively, you are throwing away your investment.

12. Learn from the Session Descriptions

Take back to your office more than one copy of the Exhibit Guide, and read through the session descriptions. Give additional copies of the Guide to other members of your company. Although this information is also probably listed online, the book itself is a good reminder to read about the sessions. If you were lucky enough to have a representative who gave a session, find out who attended and what questions were asked. Find out what companies were in the audience and match these companies to your prospect list. The sessions are a guide to what is considered important in your industry at the current time. If there are session topics about which your company is unaware, bring them to management’s attention. Learn from them.

13. A Trade Show is Like an Open Book

Actually, it is more like a magazine or television show, in which the attendees are like readers or viewers, the exhibitors like advertisers, and the educational sessions like the editorial in the magazine or the content of the TV show. The attendees come for the content, and they come across the exhibitors on the way to that content. Your job is to lure them into your space with the excellence of your booth design, the intelligence and relevance of your messaging, the product demo or conversational exchange, or both, that you conduct.

14. The Importance of Leads

All the work you do to prepare for the show, and however well you perform at the show, can only be measured by the leads you generate and the disciplined way you follow up those leads. Contact us. Metro Exhibits will evaluate your trade show needs and make recommendations. We design, build, and print all signage for your trade show booth. We have purchase and rental options. We ship, store and install booths. We advise you on the best way to manage your trade show expenses. Our goal is to make your trade show experience a success.

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Trade Show ROI – Measuring Your Return on Investment

Measuring Event Return

Before attending a trade show, what’s your strategy for determining your company’s return on investment (ROI)?

How can you increase your ROI while attending an event?

ROI is a measurement of profitability on an investment or an expense. As we know, developing an ROI strategy for a trade show or event is critical to measuring your performance. You can get companies like NGP IMC services to help you with this.

However, due to lack of understanding ROI, some companies begin to see trade shows as an expense and begin cutting them from their budget. Whilst many understand the importance of this aspect, such as the mj tech companies rising in strength and profits, even some of the most experienced marketing professionals can have trouble creating an ROI strategy.

Anthony Miller, Chief Marketing Officer of Lanyon admitted that he himself did not have a strategy going in.

Anthony Miller Calulating ROI

“We cut a number of trade shows because I was unable to tell you what we got in return for it. So we focused on the ones we could see a return from and started to build backup. I urge you to spend as much of your time as you can to find those metrics. It can be a yawner, but fundamentally for me the metrics are what will feed our ability to continue to do events…”

Recently, BizBash and eTouches released a report that analyzed how event planners defined ROI. Some event planners believe ROI is extremely important. However, each one defined it as one single measurement (ex: people walking into your booth). Looking at event ROI through one lens can skew the measured value that actually came out of the trade show. Moving away from a singularity approach to a more holistic approach in calculating trade show ROI is key in measuring success.

A Holistic Approach to Event ROI

ROI-Myth-Fact_final2

Whether attending a conference, exhibition, or trade show, starting with a holistic approach to measuring your success could affect future trade show budgeting. If you define your ROI at an event as one single number (ex: people that signed up for your email list) your brand will miss the big picture.

Trade show marketing can leave impressions on attendees without you fully realizing it. Collecting the origination data from future purchases, contract signings, or other sales data could reveal the affects of your trade show appearance.

Collecting data is one of the most important factors to proving your ROI to the managers in charge of your marketing budget. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPI(s) come in handy.

KPI’s are sets of data that act as your key objectives while attending the trade show. Some examples of KPI’s are booth traffic, number of trade show leads collected, business card hand outs, purchases, etc. Sites like Http://www.thefinalstep.co.uk/blog/it-strategy-in-5-steps/ are helping businesses identify some key metrics and KPIs that they can use to benchmark and analyse the performance of any strategy over time. Why not visit their site for more information!

For instance, if you’re a food vendor trying to build brand awareness around a new pizza franchise you’re starting, you may measure the number of samples you handed out, the number of attendees who’ve been through your restaurants unique brand experience, or the number of coupons distributed to attendees. Similar experience with . You might be able to gauge the success of marketing strategies such as the branded inflatables you use (look here for examples), by looking at the numbers of people that noticed your stand compared to when they were not used.

Each event you attend will be different, so plan accordingly and adapt your business goals and KPI’s to the target audience. Once you define how you are going to calculate KPI(s) you need to determine the best way to collect the data.

Using Technology to Measure ROI

Technology is making it easier to collect critical data for measuring your trade show ROI. With more flexible platforms such as tablets and kiosks, getting information about your target audience is easier than ever.

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A lot of brands have used games, free giveaways, and contests to get trade show attendees to fill our their information. Utilizing technology such as your company’s CRM, email marketing platforms, or event management software can be critical for storing lead information.

This information can be used to create a great experience associated with your brand. Whether it’s a grand prize winner, a fun giveaway game, or even an email marketing campaign that provides helpful information to your subscribers so they can be more effective at trade shows.

Trade show KPI’s can be an effective starting point for future marketing campaigns. For example you can use email sign ups for future email marketing campaigns and create new KPI’s such as open rates, responses, and conversions.

Profit / Investment = ROI

The direct definition of ROI is a percentage. The percentage represents your return on the expense invested. Calculating ROI for trade shows is smart, effective, and can produce actionable data to help improve your event success…

But, Engagement + Brand Image also = ROI

Trade show ROI metrics can tell a story, but sometimes not the full story. Transforming a prospective consumers’ interaction with your brand from “meh” to advocacy is something that isn’t measurable in post trade show evaluation. The experience your brand delivers has a long-term effect on the people you’ve interacted, and it’s tough to put into numbers.

One way to try to put it into numbers is by tracking the sale. Asking your customers, “How did you find us,” is a small yet effective way of understanding the lingering effects of your trade show experience.

Pick The Right Event

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It may seem obvious but a lot of businesses waste their time going to a conference or a trade show that they shouldn’t be at. There are two types of events to focus on. Determining which to attend depends on your goals.

Direct to Consumer Shows

Is your company’s goal to make a sale as soon as possible? Maybe you have a product that needs buyers right now or you need test a product that’s still in the research phase. You need to go where your consumers are. Attend a show that may not be specific to your industry but specific to your target audience.

Trade Only Shows

These types of shows are specific to your industry. They may have buyers, your competition, or industry influencers who are analyzing and interacting with new brands. This is a good time to simply make your service or product better.

Learn and interact with other vendors to get ideas on what shows they attend and how they are currently marketing their business. These trade shows naturally have some buyers who attend the show looking to do business in your industry, however your top goal at these events is not typically sales oriented.

Budget: Project vs Actual

Staff at events tend to measure the R.O.I by comparing the project budget to the actual budget. By maintaining good records, a company can easily add up the cost of an event but assessing the revenue generated by that event can be complex. New contacts acquired during the trade show has the potential to improve the bottom line but is potentially hard to quantify. Determining how to value the sales revenue generated from a new or existing customer who visited the event is important to do before the show. When calculating budget is important to be as consistent as possible to give the opportunity to compare on a yearly basis.

Return on Investment in a Booth

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Do you have booth space at the event or are you simply an attendee? Having an exhibit or display at an event turns your strategy into a more inbound approach, allowing consumers to come to you instead of you going to the consumer.

If consumers are engaged with your booth they will associate that experience with your brand. This is why it is so important to get a booth design that stands out from the others. Take your time working with your exhibit design team and get ideas from people who have experience in this field.

A display, whether a rental or custom design, increases your return but also increases investment. The appearance of your booth gives a first impression to a consumer in under one second. That impression is associated with your brand in the blink of an eye. Make sure you get an exhibit done by experienced professionals who won’t leave quality design to chance. It could make or break your success at a trade show.

When you have an exhibit that is designed well it can turn events into a positive ROI machine. This machine is one that many companies use as the their number one sales tactic.

It’s good to know that a lot of factors can skew the final return on investment at a trade show. The location of your booth can determine the amount of foot traffic you get. If optional, choose a location close to a stage or an area that will receive a lot of visibility. Making foot traffic a KPI can create varied resultsin your data.

Communication Before the Show

Social media can be used to tip off your target audience of your appearance at an event. Leading up to show, should be heavily communicating your appearance. This will get more people to seek you out while at the event instead of leaving it up to them stumbling upon your booth.

Experiences During the Show

Interactive Engagement to Improve ROI by NIKE

Nike took over an entire streetcar and turned it into the Snkrs Xpress

Another way exhibitors increase ROI at events is by having creative activities or game ideas before entering an event can increase engagement with your booth.

Training your event staff to engage with your audience in an effective manner can cultivate more opportunities to increase your return.

This is were thinking outside of the box can go a long way in separating your brand from other exhibitors at the expo.

After the Show

As you are preparing for the actions you’ll take during the show, your staff should be prepared for post show action. A specific plan should be in place to follow up on all potential prospects or centers of influence met at the trade show.

Creating post-show sales and marketing strategies can increase return on event budget.

Conclusion

Developing the 360 degree program to calculate ROI is considered one of the most difficult parts of event planning but done, it can easily be adapted to new trade show appearances. Remember to understand your audiences reasoning for attending a show before creating any of your strategies.

How do you measure trade show booth success?

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