The Ultimate Checklist: Before, During, and After a Trade Show

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While online marketing has changed the way we approach our target audience, there are still a few useful and timeless offline methods that companies use today – particularly trade shows and conferences. Trade shows hold a lot of potential for B2B companies, and when managed right can mean a significant increase in sales and revenues. In this article, we’ll discuss the things you should do before, during, and after a trade show to ensure you don’t miss out on any great opportunities.

Before a Trade Show

Everything You Need to Prepare Before Hitting the Road

  • Update your signature with a trade show icon with inviting text like “Visit us at…”. This lets people know that you’ll be at the trade show and invites them to stop by your booth if they plan on attending as well. Make sure to include the name of the trade show, logo, and your booth information, if available.
  • For B2B, LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but it is important to prepare before the event:
    • Update your personal profile to mention that you’re visiting the trade show. You can do this in the top of your summary, a news feed post, and even a Pulse article.
    • Update the company page, letting your company’s followers know a little about the trade show, what you’ll be presenting there, and where your booth will be located.
    • Add a relevant recommendation or testimonial. For example, if you are attending a trade show for companies in the Chemicals industry, add a testimonial or review by a company within that industry that worked with you and is satisfied with your services and/or products. This helps people from the trade show who reach your profile understand how your company could be relevant to them.
  • If this is your first time attending this specific trade show, see if you have anyone in your network that has attended in the past. Ask them questions and get tips specific to this trade show to help you be more prepared.
  • You don’t have to wait until the trade show itself to create a list of potential leads. Do this before the trade show by researching which companies are attending as exhibitors and which are attending as guests. Prepare a list of interesting prospects and schedule meetings with them at your booth. If you are just attending and not exhibiting, see if there is a networking area or coffee place you can use to schedule meetings so that you aren’t running around from booth to booth at the event.
  • If you intend on visiting booths, use the floor plan to learn where your leads are located and plan the order you’ll be visiting them in so that you are more effective.
  • Consider creating an attractive giveaway or game to attract people to your booth. Booths with groups of visitors, even small groups, look more interesting to everyone else and will attract even more people.
  • Be ready with a team to support you during and immediately after the trade show. They don’t have to be with you there physically, but they need to be available to find leads for you, schedule meetings, follow up on no-shows, provide you with additional information when needed, etc.
  • Prepare all of the content you’ll need before the trade show so that you don’t take too long contacting your leads when you get back. Here are a few things you’ll need:
    • LinkedIn invitation text to send out to prospects you met
    • A follow-up email after the trade show
    • Phone scripts for calling leads
    • Marketing materials that are customized to the trade show target audience
  • Define clear goals to measure during and after the trade show. For example: number of leads, number of meetings with prospects, etc.

Use Social Media

Social media is a great tool to tell people that you’re attending a trade show, interact with other participants, and discover possible leads. Before creating a social media strategy, first check what tools the trade show has to offer. Many times, there will be a LinkedIn group, a hashtag on Twitter, and even a B2B networking platform on the event site itself.

Before a trade show, companies will start posting on their social media accounts and the trade show brand will share and post as well. The best way to see where the trade show buzz is, is to visit the official trade show website and visit their social profiles. You’ll usually find these links at the top and bottom of their website.

  • LinkedIn groups are a great place to join the conversation and interact with other participants. Post once in a while about your company and booth and invite people to join, but don’t post only about yourself. Ask questions, comment and like, and be present.
  • On Twitter, follow the trade show profile and see what hashtag they’re using to promote the event. Monitor the hashtag to see what other companies are posting, retweet relevant posts, reply, and post with the hashtag to let others know you’re attending and invite them to pay you a visit.

Other social networks, like Facebook, are less common, but if the trade show has an active profile or group, you should take a look and see if your target audience is active there as well.

You’ll Need Three Teams

The following three teams, working together, can mean the difference between a trade show flop and a huge success.

  • Core Company Team – This team presents the product or service at the booth and usually includes executives and tech specialists.
  • Business Development Team – This team will also be at the trade show and is responsible for bringing qualified meetings to the booth. We recommend having someone that is great at walking the floor and bringing in new meetings while at the show, even if you have already scheduled meetings before the event.
  • Supporting Back-Office Team – You’ll need a team back at the office to support your activities at the trade show. This includes saving the leads you send them to the CRM, rescheduling missed meetings, finding new prospects, scheduling with companies that you found interesting at the event, etc.

During a Trade Show

Things to Do During the Trade Show

  • Used a shared file system like Google Drive to share all of the marketing information. That way, if there are any updates, the team at the office can easily update everything and the teams at the trade show will have everything they need in real time.
  • Save the leads you meet online and add notes per lead. Don’t just put their cards in a box. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, scan the cards and send the image to the support team to upload. Remember to add notes per lead so that you can send more personalized and targeted emails after the trade show.
  • The back-office support team can keep working throughout the trade show to schedule more meetings and reschedule with leads that didn’t show up, so it is important to keep them updated at all times.
  • Create a chat group to communicate with all of the teams during the trade show. This is a great way to send quick updates and even recorded notes to save time.
  • Make sure that the entire team is not always at the booth. There should always be someone seeking out leads and meetings, attending lectures, networking, walking the floor, etc.
  • Approach leads and invite them to your booth. If you can’t find the decision maker, ask for their details and contact them or have your support team do the research.
  • Invite groups of people to your booth at the same time to create a buzz and attract more leads. When others see a booth with many visitors at the same time, it makes the booth look more appealing and attracts even more visitors (which is why we recommend giveaways and games).
  • Be committed and don’t be distracted by other non-trade show activities like calls with clients, office-related tasks, etc. Make sure you have delegated those tasks to someone else and have planned accordingly so that you can be focused on the task at hand.

Social Media Activity During the Trade Show

  • Keep inviting potential leads to visit your booth.
  • Take pictures with the leads that you do meet and post it on Twitter or other social networks. Tag them so that they share the post and add the trade show hashtag. Don’t forget to ask permission first.
  • Post pictures of your booth and team throughout the trade show.
  • Don’t take pictures of empty booths; your pictures should show activity and look alive!

After a Trade Show

Post-Trade Show Action Items

  • Make sure all of the leads, contact details, and notes have been uploaded to the company’s CRM.
  • Upload an article to your website’s news section or blog with pictures from the trade show, interesting things that took place, companies you met, etc. Don’t forget to share it on social media.
  • Measure the final results of the trade show vs. the initial goals you defined in the beginning.

Social Media Activity

  • Add all of the leads on LinkedIn immediately after the trade show with a personalized invite. Don’t wait too long – you get the best results when they can remember you.
  • Follow companies you met with on Twitter and tag them in a post (example: “It was great meeting you at the tradeshow!”). Don’t forget to add the trade show hashtag and, if possible, a picture.

To Summarize…

Trade shows are a great place to increase your sales, but you need to make sure to make the most out of them. Many companies return from trade shows completely spent and it takes them too long to follow up on all of the leads, and some leads are even lost along the way. Preparing everything beforehand and having a support team to help you throughout the entire process ensures that you make the most out of the trade show you’re attending.

 

About Author

Dafna is the Founder and CEO at D|Rolls Associates, a boutique Boston-based firm that provides companies around the globe with business development and appointment setting services.

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