Think about the last time you exhibited at a trade show. Did you net a boatload of A-leads? Maybe the ho-hum, run-of-the-mill list of names and email addresses? Or worse… Return empty handed? YIKES!
Mediocre leads might make you want to throw your trade show program overboard. And you may think that exhibiting at trade shows shouldn’t be part of your marketing mix. Bottom line is your trade show experience will run aground if you’re at the WRONG show.
Reeling in valuable leads starts with choosing the right show.
There’s a process to selecting the right trade show. It’s an investment of your time. It takes legwork. And a commitment to follow through without taking shortcuts. But the payoff for finding your exhibiting paradise just might be the lifeboat for your trade show program.
Three Key Components You Must Know Before You Launch Your Search
- Your organizational objectives.
- Your marketing objectives.
- The audience you want to reach.
Determine how these objectives connect with what you want to achieve at a show. Pinpoint the objectives, and set clear, tangible (measurable) goals. Running adrift from this step could send you way off course in the long run.
Understand how trade shows fit in your marketing program and strategy. What’s the “WHY” for exhibiting? Is it to increase Sales? Promote a new product or service? Both?
Align the decision to exhibit with the organizational and marketing objectives. Never lose sight of them.
Who are you trying to reach? Know who your customers and prospects are, what they value, what problems they have, and what solutions they need.
Each trade show attracts a different audience. Even shows within the same industry. Understanding your personas and what drives them, will provide key insights into whether a trade show aligns with the best prospects for your business.
Four Waypoints When Cruising a Sea of Shows
With 14,000+ trade shows in the U.S. and Canada every year, how do you find shows that are a good fit?
- Talk to your product managers and the sales team. Ask them which shows they believe are valuable and WHY.
- Find out which trade shows your exisiting prospects and customers attend.
- Talk to your suppliers and partners about their trade show program and their experiences.
- Research your competition. Where are they exhibiting?
Check out these sources for finding shows:
- Expo Central International http://www.expocentral.com
- Trade Show News Network http://www.tsnn.com/top-250-us-shows-list
- Exhibit City News Trade Show Calendar http://www.exhibitcitynews.com/tradeshow-calendar/
- m+a expodatabase http://www.expodatabase.com/aussteller/
- Events in America http://www.eventsinamerica.com
Scope Out the Attendees
Successful exhibitors are data-driven in their decision-making process.
Get detailed information about attendee needs, expectations, interests and their demographic profiles. How do the show attendees compare to your customer personas?
Verify the show attendees are part of your target market and fit your buyer persona. Solid attendee demographics provide a foundation for making decisions.
Can you answer YES to three key questions?
- Do the attendees represent enough potential revenue or value in reaching to justify the investment to meet your objectives?
- Does the size of the total potential market justify exhibiting to reach them?
- Do the attendee demographics match my client personas?
The data sweet spot is a comprehensive attendee profile that defines the show audience the same way your company defines and segments its markets and personas.
If you’ve got that, you’re on course. But if you discover the attendees for a show don’t lineup with your personas…STOP.
Navigate your way clear of that show’s uncertain waters and search for the perfect destination to set your anchor.
Do you know a five-day conference with 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates, 87,500 napkins, 75,000 cups and 90,000 cans or bottles? (Source MeetGreen) It’s staggering when you think about it! But, the good news is you’re in a position to change this and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Designing greener and more sustainable meetings and conferences is important to planners and exhibitors. In honor of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, let’s look at how you can shrink your event’s ecological footprint and reduce the impact on the environment.
Calculating your carbon footprint is a great way to measure your event’s impact. MeetGreen, a leader in sustainable events, partnered with TerraPass to create a Carbon Calculator that will calculate your event’s footprint. This gives planners a simple way to understand the climate impact and develop a baseline.
We’re all pretty familiar with the “please conserve water” signs placed in the bathroom of a hotel room. And most have incorporated some sort of green practices such as recycling in guest rooms and linen reuse programs. But these days, commercial hotels are doing even more to conserve energy and resources.
Find out if the hotel uses biodegradable detergents, green-cleaning products and if they have eco-friendly bath amenities for guests. Look for hotels with energy efficient building management practices like motion sensors for lighting in their meeting spaces, along with energy and water efficient mechanical systems. If possible, choose a hotel that is LEED certified or Green Seal certified.
The Green Meeting Industry Council estimates $12,000 is saved when water is served in pitchers instead of water bottles during a three-day conference. This simple switch will reduce your footprint and your costs. Request organic, local grown food. Synthetic fertilizers or chemicals derived from fossils fuels, are not used on organic foods. Plus it’s better for your health. Bonus!
Instead of using reams of paper to copy countless handouts, programs and agendas, provide attendees with USBs already loaded with materials. Buy premiums, or promotional items like pens, shirts and bags, made from recycled material. Check out Eco Promotional Products, Inc.
- If you can’t go 100% electronic, print two-sided handouts on recycled paper. Avoid shipping and print on-site at the business center, or a local FedEx Kinkos.
- Use mobile meeting apps to inform and engage like QuickMoble and EventMobi.
- Use social networks, blogs and your event website to give visibility to your sustainability initiatives and create awareness.
Exhibitions can have the biggest impact on meetings. Provide exhibitors with guidance on sustainable design and construction. Have a program to recognize exhibitors who implement sustainability practices. Be sure to tell your exhibitors about the meeting’s green strategy well in advance and tell them how they can reduce their impact.
Shipping is the most ecologically unfriendly aspect of exhibiting. So watch your weight! The heavier your exhibit, the more carbon is emitted during shipping. Use modular, lightweight exhibit structures with fabric elements and recyclable materials like aluminum.
Given the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle, consider renting. Renting exhibit components as opposed to buying, is a no brainer way to be greener. By renting items from suppliers within the show city, you’re also saving on carbon emissions. Keep exhibits as long as possible. Refurbish and repurpose your exhibit!
- Pad-wrap your shipment. This will eliminate the extra weight of heavy shipping crates.
- Reduce the amount of nonrenewable materials from your exhibit, especially PVC (graphics, hint-hint).
- Try consumable giveaways such as iTunes downloads, food, or coffee-shop gift cards. They’re less likely to end up in landfill.
Tout your green initiatives, but don’t over do it. Greenwashing is the practice of using potentially deceptive information, to make something appear more earth friendly than it is. Greenwashing can damage your event, brand, trust and goodwill. Avoid overstating your claims and go for messaging that promotes your eco-friendly actions as greener than the status quo.
It’s easier than ever before to add a little green to your meeting. Do some research. Most hotels and venues will talk about green practices on their websites. And if they’re certified, it’ll be front and center.
Ask the Convention and Visitors Bureau for a list of venues and suppliers with environmental practices in place. Tell your vendors, exhibitors and attendees, that having an eco-conscious meeting is important.
Did your meeting leave a smaller footprint? Let everyone know! Just don’t inflate your accomplishments. Hot air can get you into some hot water.