While modern buyers are extremely self-sufficient at searching out the information they need (thanks Google), trade shows remain a fantastic place for prospects to discover new services or solutions to challenges they didn’t even know they had.

Add to this the fact that exhibiting at trade shows can strengthen your brand credibility and give you access to high-quality prospects that have invested time and money in attending, and it seems clear they will remain a crucial part of the marketing mix.

But is your business ready to maximise ROI from that big trade show just around the corner? Let’s see how well you measure up against our checklist:

1) Is your ‘elevator pitch’ ready?

Can your trade show staffers clearly and concisely explain what your business does and why it stands out to prospects in no more than 60 seconds? Hopefully, because that’s all the time they’ll have in most encounters.

2) Can you put a face to the name?

In today’s world of emails, tweets and cold calls, face-to-face contact can be unbelievably powerful. But have you given your staff a primer on good body language, conversation techniques and the core messages to get across? If so, they’ll be far better equipped to guide customers around your stand, capture their details and ensure they leave with the right information – as well as a great first impression. 

3) Are you avoiding the clichés?

From banners and big screen logos to branded pens and USB sticks, doing the same thing as everyone else won’t help your business stand out or attract that all important footfall. Have you considered something new? The options are limitless: tactics like video demonstrations, live classes, or even augmented and virtual reality displays can really bring your stand to life.

4) Do you have a content strategy? 

The right content is a crucial part of trade show success. Remember: prospects don’t care about your business; they care about their own business. You need valuable content that really gets to grips with customer challenges at different stages in the buyer journey. Engage and nurture customers on their terms and they’ll pull themselves deeper into your sales funnel of their own free will. Think easy-to-digest brochures that focus on benefits not features, case studies, quick-fire factsheets and infographics.

5) Are you optimised for digital?

While high-quality printed content on your stand is essential, an online content hub is equally important. We recommend building a bespoke landing page for every trade show and driving attendees to it via a memorable URL or QR codes (try Kaywa or Microsoft Tag). Plenty of attendees will be depending on their mobiles, so make sure the site is optimised for it. Meanwhile, use your social media channels and a unique hashtag to provide live updates from the show, share content and drive discussions with customers and prospects.

6) Are you ready to measure?

People say it’s hard to measure trade show success, but if you’ve pulled all your visitors back to the web, measurement is far easier. With high-value gated content in your online hub, you’ll be in a great position to measure success and tap into a pipeline of new leads. Facebook and Twitter also both offer free measurement facilities that can help you gauge social impact – provided you benchmark performance before and after the show, of course.

7) Do you have a follow-up strategy?

There’s no point gathering data on prospects if you fail to follow-up. Today, marketing automation makes this easier than ever - from the ability to automatically trigger emails or social posts, to tailoring content on your website for a specific viewer. A good strategy is drip-feeding useful content to prospects in a series of emails before following-up with those that show interest by phone.

That’s it for our trade show checklist. Have something to add? Whether you’ve seen shining success or a dismal trade show failure, we’d love to hear from you: hello@hitfirstbase.com.

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