How do you react to a trade show announcement—with anxiety and dread or with excitement and enthusiasm? Whether you plan to exhibit or simply to attend with your team in tow, trade shows offer unparalleled opportunities to reach potential clients, members of the media, industry leaders, strategic partners, key opinion leaders, vendors, and potential new-hires. Trade show successes can make or break a company, and a successful trade show can catapult a business to new levels of industry prominence.
Attending trade shows is a “must do” for any competitive business, so understand there is no substitute for this type of event. Don’t be naïve in thinking just showing up is good marketing, or that opportunities will fall in your lap. You should have a trade show plan that capitalizes on each area of opportunity.
In order to maximize your investment, everyone involved must get on board with setting goals for planning, executing, and following up on trade show leads of all kinds. Of course, you will carefully record and track sales leads that generate from your displays and presentations, but who is keeping track of all the relationships with the media, event organizers, speakers from the event podium, industry associates, competitors, and even from your own staff? In order to reap the benefits, someone must take charge of organizing show efforts and monitoring the tangible and intangible results of trade show activities.
American Salon is hosting its annual IBS New York trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center March 4-6, 2018, and our sister magazine, American Spa is hosting their annual IECSC trade show on the same days, on top of its first annual Women in Wellness Leadership Conference at Convene NYC on March 6. Whether you're attending an American Salon or American Spa event for the first time, or you're a seasoned trade show vet, here are 10 tips to help you maximize the return on your trade show investment:
- Recognize opportunities and set clear goals: A trade show’s goals will include product sales and lead generation, but don’t stop at immediate gratification.
- Select your show; then organize your efforts: Create a calendar for pre-show and on-site action items, and meet with your staff regularly to monitor progress and discuss options. If you are exhibiting, design a functional and attractive booth that fits your budget. This booth will become your home away from home, so be sure it reflects your company’s image and serves as a comfortable place to entertain customers and associates.
- Monitor relevant podium and poster presentations: What are the information draws for the show? What do attendees hope to discover? Who will be speaking, and what are their topics? How do these presentations relate to your spa’s products or services?
- Look for opportunities to increase your presence: Be sure your company is well represented at both formal and informal events.
- Walk the floor: Check out the booths and displays. Compare your marketing efforts to those of your competition and to others in the industry.
- Create “buzz” in your booth: If you are an exhibitor, be sure to keep things lively with presentations, demonstrations, celebrity visits, autograph sessions, entertainment, and give-aways. People are attracted to high-energy situations where others are engaged in stimulating conversation or having fun.
- Don’t just be there: Prepare your staff to optimize presence, strategize staff activities, and train them to execute their roles.
- Recognize opportunities and pursue media relationships: Industry shows draw the top names in trade journalism, so be sure to meet with media representatives at the show
- Stay in the show hotel: Regardless of price, staying in the show-sponsored hotel allows you to network throughout your stay. You can make a friend by holding an elevator, waiting in line at the coffee shop, or hitting the treadmill in your hotel’s fitness center. These casual meetings can turn into valuable friendships that could come in handy.
- Network: Be aware of golden opportunities. Look for reasons to be “at the right place, at the right time.” Don’t skip the host events, you will always come away with new and important friends and ideas.