Proven Strategies to Improve your Return on your Exhibiting Investment
“In today’s changing and competitive marketing arena, exhibitions are one of your most effective media… IF done properly. However, few exhibitors truly understand how to make exhibitions payoff”
Successful exhibitors know that the competition for the attendee’s limited time on the exhibit floor is fierce. To get their fair share of booth traffic they do not just rent space, show up and hope people find them. They use targeted pre-show, at show and after show marketing to get “in the mind” and “on the agenda” of the right visitors.
Proven Tips to Increase Your Booth Traffic at Your Next SSG Show
Maximize your company’s Return on Investment (ROI) at your next SSG show by increasing the number of customers and prospects that visit your booth. Use the following tools to create an integrated marketing plan to attract more qualified buyers to your booth.
Corporate Communications Tools
Tip – Promote your booth number at the show in everything your buyers and prospects might see.
- Add your show’s logo and your booth number to your web site.
- Create a special show landing page that has a picture of your booth, where it’s located on the floorplan and the products and services you will be showing. Also promote any show specials or new product announcements you will be making at the show.
- Add “Visit us at the name of the show, booth number ___” to all your direct mail such as newsletters, invoices and new product announcements.
- Add “Visit us at the name of the show in booth number ___” to your telephone on-hold message.
- Add “Visit us at the name of the show in booth number ___” to your staffs’ email signature line.
Direct Mail and E-Mail
Tip – Send at least three pre-show invitations to increase the number of clients and prospects in your booth. Note: CEIR research shows companies that send multiple pre-show invitations see 50% more traffic in their booths than companies that don’t.
- Two months before the show mail the VIP Registration Ticket with a personal letter of invitation to your clients and prospects.
- Six weeks before the show mail the show’s attendee brochure with a personal letter of invitation to your clients/prospects.
- One month before the show email the e-VIP Registration Ticket with an updated personal letter of invitation to your clients/prospects.
- Two weeks before the show fax an invitation or send a complimentary ticket to visit your booth to your clients/prospects.
Tip – Run your advertisement multiple times in several publications and web sites prior to your next SSG show to generate interest in your booth.
- Create a new advertisement for the show with your booth number that tells your audience how they will benefit by visiting your booth.
- Add “Visit us at the name of your next show in booth ___” to your existing advertisements.
- Advertise on the appropriate SSG show web site.
- Advertise on the appropriate SSG show broadcast emails.
Tip – Ask your strategic partners, distributors and international agents to invite your mutual clients and prospects to your booth at your next SSG show.
- Tell your staff to distribute print and e-VIP Registration Tickets to clients and prospects.
- Call your clients and prospects to personally invite them to visit your booth at your next show.
- Call your best clients and schedule appointments to visit your booth during your next show.
- Create a “Show Special” that will only be available at your booth and promote it in advance.
Tip – Use new technology, unique product introductions and product improvements to get editors interested in your press release.
- Distribute a press release on any new product and/or service your company will be demonstrating at your next SSG show.
- Offer editors exclusive interviews with your company’s top executives on your company’s plans at your next show.
Design Your Display To Sell
Now that you have set your objectives for the show, your next action item is to choose the right display, so your company will stand out and attract your targeted audience. Up your game by renting one of our Designer stands. Ask us about “Rental Exhibits” for various styles of displays at various price points. T: 010 220 5303
Design For Functionality Your exhibit is more than a three-dimensional ad. It is a temporary workspace, filled with booth staffers there for days, and visitors there for just a few minutes. Increase productivity by giving them enough space to work in, and by designing your booth for visitors to have a better shopping experience.
Most exhibits are designed around 7 major functions:
- Brand Messaging: Your exhibit architecture is often just a carrier for graphics. Graphics get visitors’ attention, create a mood or personality, communicate a message and benefit, and identify products and services.
- Reception / Lead Gathering Your booth staffers will need a place to write and record leads. Larger exhibits may have a dedicated reception counter.
- Storage You’ve got a lot of stuff to hide inside tables and closets: Literature, giveaways, staffers’ bags, purses, planners and coats. Best of all: a place to store all those leads you’re taking.
- Product Demonstration People come to get their hands on your products or to see your staffers demonstrate them. You may demo a physical product on a table, counter or in a space set aside for it, or demonstrate a software or system via a computer on a kiosk or table.
- Product Display Big or little, you can display products on kiosks, pedestals, tables, shelving, and merchandising accessories. But consider bringing only your biggest sellers or your key new products, and relying more on graphics.
- Meeting / Conferencing Do you exhibit at shows to get lots of one-on-one time with key customers, dealers, and partners? Depending on your discussions, you may want open, semi-private, or private – even with lockable doors.
- Live Presentations You may need seating, a raised platform for presenters, and audio/visual technology, such as a plasma screen, ranging from intimate seating for two to theatre seating for dozens – or more.
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dentify the Right Buyers and Attract them to your Booth
Bringing qualified buyers into your booth is the main reason for exhibiting. We at SSG invest a great deal of time and money in attracting qualified buyers to all our shows. It’s your job to pull them into your booth.
Buyers attending our shows want to know that their suppliers — both present and potential — will be exhibiting. If buyers know what companies are at the show, and they receive invitations from these exhibiting companies, they are more likely to attend.
We are sending you these techniques, tips, and tools so can start promoting your participation in these shows now. Use these tips to promote –the products you will have on display and tell how they will benefit your prospects and customers. Your investment in pre-show promotion will pay off in reaching your buyers and prospects on-site and in post-show sales.
Your pre-show promotional campaign should be part of your show marketing plan and based upon measurable objectives (See: Increase Your Show’s ROI with Measurable Objectives). It should also take into account the display you are designing (See: Design Your Display To Sell).
Follow these steps to identify and attract qualified buyers and prospects to your booth.
- Learn who visited the show last year.
- Determine your company’s Unique Selling Proposition. Enrich your mailing list and design your “results-focused” marketing message.
- Use all your company’s marketing and communication tools to send at least three invitations to your target audience to visit you at the show. Read “Proven Tips to Increase Your Booth Traffic”
Using these techniques before the show will ensure that you’ll have a booth full of interested and qualified buyers at the event.
Ten Ways to Save Money at the Show
At this point in your show-planning cycle, exhibition marketing experts suggest, your company should have already:
- a. Set measurable show objectives
- b. Designed a display that will attract the right buyers
- c. Begun pre-show marketing to increase the number of buyers and prospects at your booth.
Now it’s time to focus on getting the most for your money at the show.
- Budget for and invest in only the things that help you reach your show objectives.
- Plan in advance. Use your Exhibitor Service Manual to determine the services you’ll need. Then order these services before the discount deadline date to qualify for reduced pricing.
- Call the contractor to discuss your requirements to avoid ordering more than you need. Also ask the SSG Expo Team for ideas on how to save money at your next show. If it isn’t your first time exhibiting, ask to see last year’s invoice and review with the general contractor how you could have saved money.
- Consider renting a display from SSG that includes your display and merchandising requirements.
- Consolidate your freight into one ground shipment. Use crates or stretch-wrap your freight to pallets to avoid special handling charges and schedule your truck to be unloaded on straight time. Consider using a common carrier, as shipping with most expedited/overnight carriers is considered “special handling.”
- Book hotel accommodation through your Expo Team and save.
- Pre-wire as much of your equipment and display as possible and organize or colour code all wires that will be connected on-site.
- Avoid changing your service orders on-site, as higher rates will apply.
- Audit all invoices from show contractors on-site and review other invoices for errors as soon as you receive them. Discuss any concerns at the Service Desk or with Show Management before you leave the show site! It’s easier to take care of problems while all the details are fresh and all the parties involved are available.
- Debrief after the show on ways to save money on your next SSG show.
Bonus: Use SSG’s Budget Template to track your expenses and compare your costs with industry averages by category. Click here to download the Excel file.
Strategies to Sell More at the Show: How to Select and Train your Booth Staff
Attendees will remember more about your exhibit, and remember it longer after the show, if they’ve had a positive experience with your booth staff. Because your staff is such an important factor for a successful show, experts recommend that you select and train your staff to excel within the unique environment of an exhibition.
“Nothing pays off in qualified leads and positive company image better than a well-trained staff!” SSG recommends the following when selecting and training booth staff:
- Recognize that your exhibit staff’s knowledge and professionalism are the most memorable parts of an attendee’s experience with your company.
- Determine your exhibit staffing levels (rule of thumb: one staff person per 4m² of open exhibit space), shift length (adequate breaks and no longer than four hours) and roles (sales, product management, PR, etc.) to be filled.
- Work with your management to get the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic staffers available.
- Communicate to these staffers your company’s measurable show objectives, messages and personnel logistics during a mandatory pre-show training session.
- Determine who will train your exhibit staff. There are three options:
- do it yourself with the help of other corporate staff;
- purchase exhibit-staff training tools; or
- bring in a professional exhibit-staff trainer to provide customized pre-show training, role playing and in-booth coaching.
- Plan an in-booth orientation session for all staff to discuss your exhibit layout, promotions, collateral, demonstrations, the lead-capture system, schedules, attire, badging, transportation, location of show hall entrances, concession stands and restrooms.
- Plan an off-site meeting to review confidential company strategy, objectives, messages, products and show specials offered.
- Review with your staff the attendee-interaction process, from greeting and engaging to qualifying and demonstrating to recording lead information and dismissing.
- Include a basic “boothmanship” etiquette review. Communicate your rules: i.e., no cell phones/Blackberries, no food/beverages/gum while working, no sitting in your exhibit, no negative body language and no huddling with other staff.
- Stress that TIME is your biggest competitor at the show. The goal is to move attendees rapidly through the interaction process toward committing to a follow-up or sale.
Follow Up on Your Show Leads Before Your Competitor Does
Strengthen new relationships you formed at the show by following up with them ASAP.
Use the tips, resources and timelines below to make sure that everyone you met at the show receives the information you promised them — today, while your company’s booth, staff and product are still fresh in their minds.
What you should know:
- 80% of show leads are not followed up. Follow up on your leads and get ahead of your competition.
- 45% of all business leads become buyers in the future. Stay in front of these leads, and one day they might be your customers.
- By following up on your show leads ASAP, the return on your show investment will increase.
Ruth Stevens, author of Tradeshow and Event Marketing, notes that successful companies:
- Immediately acknowledge everyone they met at the show with an e-mail, fax or call thanking them for stopping at their booth and confirming when they will receive the information they requested.
- Send their most important prospects the materials requested within one week of the show.
- Send their less important prospects the materials requested within three weeks of the show.
- Track these leads throughout the sales process to accurately calculate the value of their show investment.
One of the key reasons you have exhibited at SSG shows was to meet prospects. You met these prospects and promised them you would send them something. Keep your promise. Follow up on your leads while they are still hot and watch those leads turn into customers!