EDITORIAL FEATURE How to Maximize Trade Show Exposure By Hank Moore, Corporate Strategist™ T he number of companies participating in trade shows increases each year. While sales objectives are most common, trade shows may also be behavior, product, distribution, or marketing oriented. Booth exhibitions at trade shows are viable and cost-effective sales tools to: • • • • • • • • Achieve new customers, in order to grow and increase profits. Introduce new products. Target a select group of visitors. Allow your staff to interface with the public. Perform informal market research. Educate the public about what your company and your industry does. Enhance your company’s image. Assess competition and the overall business climate. Trade shows generate sales leads at a lower cost per contact than a typical sales call. Research shows that industrial sales calls cost $252 to reach a prospect with 4.6 follow-up calls necessary to book an order that amounts to $1,158. At a trade show, you might spend $133 to reach a prospect with .8 follow-up calls necessary to book an order that amounts to $334. These pointers are offered to prospective exhibitors before the show: • • • • • • • • • • Exhibits can be designed to appeal to all the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Research shows that 75% of what show visitors recall after expos is what company representatives told them. Exhibiting in business-to-business shows requires different skills and approaches. The objective should be qualifying prospects rather than selling. One meets more business prospects in a faster period of time at a trade show. Today’s customers are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to identify. They are knowledgeable, sophisticated, and have increased expectations about what they want. Customers are now under more pressure to act immediately. 16 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ JUNE / JULY 2015 ] • Determine your correct mission for participating. Evaluate each trade show for what it contributes to your sales objective Determine who you want as key prospects. Delineate other categories of visitors and develop a strategy for maximizing your time with key prospects. Develop action plans for accomplishing your goals and getting the right people to visit with your company at the show. Be sure that booth personnel understand what they are responsible for and what they are selling. Untrained staff can lose qualified prospects and leads. Employ professional counsel to format your exhibit, thus maximizing your investment. Keep labor costs to a minimum. Be sure that every member of your company is aware of the exhibit. Encourage all to invite prospects and to attend themselves even if not involved in exhibiting. Market your presence at the show in advance via mailings, distribution of VIP tickets, and inclusion of your booth in advertising. Invite your current clients to visit your booth. Most attendees go to the shows in response to invitations to visit specific exhibitors. Notify your trade media of your participation. Engage public relations professionals to publicize your involvement. Work closely with the show’s management. They too are interested in the same audiences as you. Invite the board of the sponsoring organization to visit your booth. These pointers are offered in order to maximize the way in which you should exhibit the product-service: • • Graphically describe and show what you do. Don’t expect the product to show itself. Don’t expect people to know about you already or what you do.