Recession-proof tradeshow strategies

Tradeshows offer a great opportunity to lift your business in times of economic slowdown. Expert tradeshow coach and speaker Joe Dorfman, provides seven proven strategies for exhibition success in challenging times.

Strategy #1: Exhibit with excellence before, during and after the show

Now, more than ever, it is critical to ensure you and your exhibition sales team are focused and working together to achieve common objectives. This applies to the quality of your pre-show preparation and promotion of your exhibit, your sales team’s performance at the show and the follow-up process:

  • Make sure you are clear on your goals and objectives
  • Upskill your exhibit sales team to ensure high performance
  • Crystalise your follow-up process so that it is ready and easy to implement.

Strategy #2: Embrace low cost pre-show promotion

On some level, tradeshow exhibiting is very much a numbers game; you need a certain number of attendees to visit your stand in order to convert an acceptable percentage into high quality leads. The way to generate the required tradeshow traffic is with strategic pre-show promotion.

Low cost pre-show promotion methods include email marketing, mentioning show participation on your website and blog, and having your sales force spread the word to your existing customer base. Make sure to include the show’s date, time and location, as well as your stand number and information about any show specials you’ll be running.

Strategy #3: Unify your marketing message

Recession-proof exhibiting requires efficiency. Tradeshow exhibiting needs to be integrated into your overall marketing campaign. That being said, research tells us that the vast majority of attendees come to a tradeshow to see what’s new and exciting.

Meet and surpass attendee expectations by focusing on your newest offerings. If you don’t have a new product, present a strong seller in a new way. Often highlighting features and usability can enhance an established product’s appeal.

Strategy #4: Think through giveaways

Promotional products – the goodie bags, giveaways, and ‘swag’ that appear at every tradeshow – can eat up a substantial amount of your budget. Consider these items carefully. For a giveaway item to be truly effective, it should be something your target customer would likely want, keep and use, particularly at those times you’d like them to be thinking of your organisation!

Informational products work particularly well in this regard. Tip sheets, checklists and booklets require minimal production costs yet offer real value to attendees.

Strategy #5: Notice networking opportunities

After-show parties, dinner theatre outings and networking summits might seem like ancillary functions at best, secondary to the ‘real’ business of exhibiting. Yet many lucrative relationships begin and thrive in exactly these settings.

Remember, people prefer to do business with people they like and trust. In order to like and trust you, your customers have to get to know you. Networking venues make this possible.

Train your exhibit sales team to know they’re always ‘on’. Attendees can and will judge your organisation based upon your sales team’s conduct at networking events. Eschewing alcohol and embracing discretion should be the order of the day.

Strategy #6: Capitalise on competitiveness

Your sales team should have specific and quantifiable individual goals and objectives. These goals and objectives should be used to introduce some measure of accountability over the course of the show. Augment these goals and objectives with an incentive program. Having a tangible reward to strive for can push your team to higher, more profitable levels of performance.

Never lose sight of the fact that a tradeshow is a high pressure, high stress environment. Recognition and support of your exhibit team’s efforts is essential. Use pre and post-show meetings on a daily basis to boost morale, recognise and address any problems, start action on high priority leads, and fine tune overall performance.

Strategy #7: Focus on follow-up

The hours and days immediately after the show present your prime opportunity to leverage an appearance into multiple sales. It is critical to have a follow-up plan, delineating what actions will be taken after the show and who is responsible for those actions, with an element of accountability to ensure results.
Develop a ranking system for all leads collected at the show. Hot leads are obviously top priority and require immediate action. Warm and cold leads also need follow-up; relationships sometimes require substantial cultivation before they can flower into their full potential!

Utilising these seven tradeshow strategies can help you lift your business through the downturn.

Joe Dorfman is a business coach and speaker for The Power of Focus. For more information, www.thepoweroffocus.com.au

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of Giftrap, the official magazine of Gift and Homewares Australia (GHA).

People who read this, also liked:
How to prepare for a trade show

How to keep your business innovative

Related Stories