Low Cost Trade Show Strategies for Small Businesses

Posted on by Ivana S. Taylor

Trade shows used to cost a ridiculous amount of money.  And some of the big brands still spend a ridiculous amount of money to promote themselves and their brands at industry shows.  But you don’t have to.  Here are just a few checklist items you can work on to make your show a profitable activity.

How to Set Goals for Your Trade Show?

Set your conversion goals for the show you’re attending.

What’s Important to Your Target Audience?

Think about the people that will be coming to this show.

Pre-Show Promotions Will Pay Off

Trade show displays are a lot like business web sites.  Now that I think about it — web sites were originally a lot like trade show displays.  The idea is to draw people into your space and convert them either into a customer or a lead.  Most organizations send groups of people to a show and a pre-show promotion will give everyone time to put you on their list.  The other benefit of pre-show promotions is that it helps your visitors get a preview of what you are featuring and gets them excited and ready to ask questions of you and your staff.

One tip is to create a daily trade show schedule.  This assures that your booth isn’t over crowded with sales people and has just enough room for customer to come in and see what you’re featuring.

Daily Debrief

You have a terrific opportunity at the beginning and at the end of each trade show day.  At the beginning of the day, get everyone on the same page by reviewing what your theme is and what your goals for the show are.  Review which customers you’re expecting to show up that day and also review any industry or competitive info that you’d like to collect that day.  Review the schedule and make adjustments for any changes due to customer meetings.

At the end of the day, review the leads you’ve collected and be sure to take any action that’s required that might really give the customer that A-HA experience.

Follow-Up After the Show

Don’t lose that excitement and energy from the trade show when you get back.  In fact, don’t even think of it as coming back, think of it as a change of venue.  The show continues all the way until you’ve completed all the follow-ups to the leads you’ve collected at the show.

You might divide the leads among your sales reps immediately, or you might have a process for calling each lead and reviewing their needs.  In either case — a series of good qualification questions is a great idea.  In a way, you’re trying to get to the “no” with each lead.

You read that right — I said “Get to the NO.”  You’re in search of only those customers who will really benefit and enjoy your product or service — not people who were just passing through or putting their card in for the drawing.  You’re looking for ideal customers and not potentially dissatisfied customers.

Putting them into the Funnel

Measure the success of your trade show leads as they move through the sales funnel – then measure which of them turn into customers and when they turn into customers.  This will help you develop your budgets and strategies for next year.  The name of the game is to get more qualified customers into the funnel and get them through your sales process as quickly and profitably as possible.

Trade Shows as a Marketing Strategy

Trade shows can be a very efficient way to fill your sales funnel – but you have to set yourself up for success.  That means picking a show that’s rich in potential qualified customers, creating a message and a strategy that will be irresistible to those customers and then following a disciplined process of exhibiting, qualifying and following up.  If you have all these elements in place – your show and your sales strategies will be a success.

Name: Ivana S. Taylor

Email: ivana@diymarketers.com

Website: http://diymarketers.com

About: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her on Twitter as @DIYMarketers.