These ideas are tactical, and won’t equally apply to everyone, but were worth sharing in hopes that something here will spark accelerate awareness, interest, demand and sales from your next event or trade show.

Before the Show
Objective: Get people to the booth. Create awareness and recognition so that people recognize Company on the showroom floor and stop at your booth as they walk the exhibit hall.

  • Get a list of expected attendees.
  • Target customers you’d like to work with or learn more about, send them an invitation to visit you at the show. Include booth #.
  • Do a pre-show email and/or offer to expected attendees.
  • Let people know your Twitter handle, and that you will be tweeting during the show.
  • Get on the pre-show promotions list on the Web site.
  • Consider joint offers with other exhibitors – are there a couple complimentary exhibitors you could partner with in advance to drive traffic to your site?
  • What exhibitors are around you? Does it make sense to contact them and collaborate on a way to get people to both booths?
  • Let your website visitors know that you will be at the show.
  • How do you get visitors to prioritize your booth? Offer to validate their parking?
  • Examples and stories of other customers making good $$ using the product in their space (online or offline).
  • This could be the most important piece of all this; demonstrating directly to prospective buyers that this works in retail, that it’s profitable, and that it’s a safe bet to try it in their place.

At Show
Objective: Make as many contacts as possible, collect as many emails as possible.

  • Offer a show discount. XX% off if customers place their order at the show.
  • Drop business card in fishbowl for a prize. Offer free samples to all registered buyers.
  • Have contact forms/order forms available for people when you have more in depth conversations, capture email, twitter handle, Facebook.
  • Run a game to get people to stop at the booth.
  • Build a quick-and-easy-to-read one-sheeter to educate show goers on the ease and profitability of using the product. This should be the type of document that stops people in their tracks. They immediately see the value of using the product and want to talk with you to order.
  • In the collateral, offer usage scenarios.
  • Have a current customer join you at the booth and be a live testimonial. Alternatively, write up a one-sheeter with customer testimonials or case studies of successful retailers who use the product.
  • Get social media ID from all attendees (twitter name, are they on Facebook, etc.).
  • Hire a college kid to hand something out at the door or near the registration table to draw them to your booth.
  • Tweet during the show, invite followers to come by your booth.
  • If sales are slow, send out an offer via Twitter, “the next 5 people to show up at the booth get XXX in addition to the show discount”.

After the Show
Objective: Create long-term, lasting relationships with prospects that showed interest; build/expand the sales pipeline.

  • Thank you to those who purchased at the show.
  • For those that did not order at the show, categorize and prioritize leads.
  • Follow-up immediately with personal emails and/or calls to “hottest” buyers.
  • For other leads, it may make sense to prep message in advance in order to send message out as soon as possible after the show. Speed is very important. Buyers have met a lot of people at the show, and you want them to remember you.
  • Review your pre-show targeted list of attendees. Were there people that you did not get to meet, or collect contact information? Consider a separate “Sorry we missed you” message with an offer to get a demo or presentation at their convenience.
  • Gather their social media presence (Twitter, blog feeds, etc.) and follow, retweet, respond to them moving forward.
  • Keep all contact information in your CRM and use for future e-newsletters, email drip campaign, etc. Be sure to collect and maintain their permission to be emailed.