Tradeshows, along with conferences and exhibitions, are brilliant ways for a business to market themselves either to new customers, or to market a new product or service, proving you have a trade show strategy.

However, simply bowling on up and unfurling your tradeshow banners is simply not enough. Like all marketing activities, you need a strategy; (a trade show strategy) without one, how will you know the money you spend on tradeshow space has been worth it?

Take a look around… the next time you are a delegate at a tradeshow, have a good look at the surface of the exhibition hall. Can you see the disparity? You have tradeshow stands that are vibrant, busy places and then there are others that seem to generate little, if any interest, with employees looking bored, perhaps with a hint of envy at the busy booth around them.

And this disparity comes from how the businesses approach this opportunity; for those with objectives and reasons to be there, they themselves are buzzing with the golden ticket offered to them. And they have probably planned their tradeshow strategy too…

The Strategy

        I.            Plan in advance

Tradeshows are not cheap to buy space at therefore, as soon as you take the plunge and register for the show, parting with hard earned cash, do NOT leave the planning and preparation of the tradeshow and accessories until the week before. Planning what and how you will exhibit at a show is of strategic importance to your business; this could be the time you gain valuable new custom and interest.

      II.            Be active!

Tradeshow organisers are always looking for people who can offer them talks or seminars, especially on topics that fit with their agenda. If you something to offer, why not push yourself on to the speech circuit, offering to conduct or speak at seminars, off-shoot or fringe sessions?

The best way is to check the small print and the preliminary timetable of events to see if you can fit in with anything or offer something new. You can then, of course, harness this publicity by creating a backup presentations or information available from your stand.

    III.            Have Goals 

In all honesty, what are you looking to accomplish from the tradeshow? Is it to gain new customers or to set your company as THE authoritative place to go? There are all kinds of different goals and aims that you could use the tradeshow for but, the important part of the strategy is to link it back to your business.

All too often, businesses send employees to staff tradeshows that simply turn in to a little bit of a jolly. Rather than having a few days away at the firms expense, why not furnish your team with goals? These need to be attainable and measureable, so that you can review your presence at the show. This is just as much about whether this tradeshow works for your business, as it is about evaluating the performance of your team.

    IV.            Spread the word

If you are attending a tradeshow, tell people about it!

Harness all your social media platforms, but check to see if the tradeshow itself has a hashtag campaign that you can piggy back on to; organisers love it when exhibitors and delegates spread the word as it makes their event more successful.

Blog posts are a great way of doing this too, especially if you have a guest speaker slot. Really harness as much as you can from this event, so that your business gains as much leverage as possible.

      V.            Choose the right space

Organisers send you a plan of the hall for a reason – so that you can choose the best spot for your business (if it is still available). Some businesses will need a lot of physical space, whereas others will only need a small amount… some like a corner booth, others like the coveted position of right by the door and the first booth that people see.

Prices vary and so, if you opt for the very expensive ones it makes sense to approach the whole event with a sound strategy in mind.

    VI.            Create a welcoming space…

…that is befitting to your business: you are looking to create a welcoming, yet professional space, staffed by a friendly, confident and knowledgeable team.

  • The people – all staff need to be briefed and given goals to make their time there are active and useful as possible
  • The space – you will need accessories, including lighting and furniture
  • The material – you will need plenty of material, not just gimmicky giveaways; ensure that all the material has your logo, website, email and branding prominently displayed

And finally, every tradeshow strategy needs to have a follow up plan; gathering information and contact details are all well and good, but what are you going to do with them? How will you make contact? What will you offer them?