Trade show exhibiting: Good, Bad and Ugly

The trade show, ProMat 2017, is not that far away. Are you prepared?

This trade show is billed as North America’s largest for material handling and. I enjoy attending the show. It not only provides an opportunity to talk with people using my services; it also is interesting to see every company’s approach to the shows.

Have you noticed how some exhibitors booths fill to capacity with interested prospects while others resemble ghost towns? There are reasons for this.

Trade show exhibiting: A tale of two exhibitors

The majority of exhibitors for these shows have prepped and planned for months. They relish the opportunity to talk face-to-face with prospects because their marketing team prepared them for success. These companies identified (customers and prospects within) the target audience, contacting each before the show and invited them to visit the booth. In addition to a personal touch, most developed marketing materials specific to the show’s audience. Most maintained a top-of-mind presence using social media, further whetting the prospect’s interest with information on new products or perhaps information on a seminar. Finally, each designed their booth to maximize capturing the prospect’s interest while ensuring a good experience once the prospect arrives.

On the other end of the spectrum are the exhibitors who view a trade show as a distraction—something that takes them from “real” work. These companies tend not to take on the “expense” of letting prospects and customers know they are exhibiting. In all likelihood, if any planning for the show takes place, the person who assumes responsibility views it as punishment instead of opportunity.

Trade shows rank among the best tools available to a content marketer . . . provided sales and marketing goals are aligned.

The importance of trade show prep

The differences continue, perhaps even magnify once the shows begin.

Exhibitors who did the advance preparations frequently benefit from the traffic of people contacted and those walking the aisles. Their booths have a steady stream of prospects. Staff working the booths, interact with visitors, collecting contact information and providing product knowledge. They offer value and high energy.

The exhibitors who really didn’t want to be there, read the newspaper or sit in plain sight eating lunch. Prospects who venture into their booths may feel as if asking a question is imposing on the exhibitor’s time. They take what information is offered and move on quickly.

These differences continue after the show is over.

Smart exhibitors review the lead information along with specific requests during the show to provide follow up quickly. Then one person grades the remaining contacts after the show based upon urgency of request and relevancy. Those go to the sales team right away. The balance goes into a nurturing program, keeping top-of-mind visibility in the prospect’s mind so the prospect contacts them when ready to move forward.

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These differences continue after the show is over.

Smart exhibitors review the lead information along with specific requests during the show to provide follow up quickly. Then one person grades the remaining contacts after the show based upon urgency of request and relevancy. Those go to the sales team right away. The balance goes into a nurturing program, keeping top-of-mind visibility in the prospect’s mind so the prospect contacts them when ready to move forward.

Lead information by the less than eager exhibitors wind up in a box. Someone may look for any hot leads and follow up. However, the rest remain in the box, never to see the light of day again. Finally, the follow up meeting results in plenty of questioning. They question the value of exhibiting at future trade shows because the most recent one was a waste of time.

It is amazing how companies have completely different views on the results from exhibiting at trade shows. Still, if you look a little deeper, you understand.

Have a great ProMat show.

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Paul Schroeder is a content marketing specialist and freelance journalist specializing in material handling. Learn more about brand journalism and content marketing services Paul offers by contacting him at (715) 370-2222, via LinkedIn or email: paul@pschroedcom.com, or just go to http://pschroedcom.com.

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