This month’s guest blog post is by Mariama Holman, content marketing specialist for MultiView, a digital marketing company for associations.
It’s never too early (or too late) to start fine-tuning your organization’s participation in a trade show. The time is now; the fourth quarter of 2014 is filled with a myriad of seasonal events. Additionally, there are plenty of major events on the horizon for early next year, such as the Springtime Expo hosted by ASAE. This event hails as the most significant one-day show for association meeting professionals, attracting leaders from across the nation.
Headed to a trade show soon? Heed these helpful hints:
Develop a strategy
The association should be like a tactician competing on the battlefield – vying for new members and the continuing loyalty of old ones.
Lee Ali, managing director and founder of Expo Stars Interactive Ltd., states that 65 percent of exhibitors do not have a clear strategy or plan of action for trade show participation. Given these events are often costly, it is important to put time into thinking through trade show involvement and determining a worthwhile ROI.
Set and track goals
What are the goals for participation? How did the association perform?
Answers to these questions are necessary for assessing performance and creating a strategy to improve. Unfortunately, 97.5 percent of exhibitors do not keep track of any quantifiable results from their events. It is a best practice to always outline what “success looks like” for trade show participation and keep track of performance.
Train for success
Olympic sprinters train to win medals. Artists rehearse to perform concerts. Entrepreneurs practice their pitches to gain funding. Why shouldn’t associations train for success as well?
According to Ali, 74 percent of exhibitors do not train their staff for trade shows and events. There is a certain set of skills unique to trade shows. These skills are a hybrid of marketing and sales – knowing how to not only “sell” visitors once they enter a booth, but appropriately attract them in the first place. It is important to prepare staff by teaching best practices, running through set-up/tear down time frames and developing a familiarity with the hustle and bustle of a trade show.
People, events and organizations are not perfect and never will be. However, organizations can always strive to improve – getting better, faster and smarter year after year.
An association is bound to make some mistakes at a trade show, whether it is falling behind schedule or not securing the amount of X, Y or Z it hoped. Utilize these moments as opportunities to learn and improve your organization’s involvement in the future.