Trade shows and conferences by industrial associations are the core of many industrial marketing communication programs.
If there is one thing a company focuses on yearly, it's their annual series of shows, the products they are introducing and the presentations they are delivering. Along with that come continuing education needs and certifications earned.
At the recent Precast Concrete Products Show in Indianapolis I made a survey of best practices as shown by current trade show exhibits. All of the exhibitors I spoke with had sent out invitations to the show. Last week I got a quote from an industry association publication to send postcards to their circulation living within 200 miles of the association's upcoming show. The pub's sales rep said that mailing postcards has been a successful promotional program for their exhibitors.
Years ago many trade show display exhibit booths were huge two-story affairs of custom cabinets. Construction, shipping, erection, teardown and storage fees were huge as well. Today, lightweight, modular exhibits are the rule. Even renting parts of an exhibit that are not used frequently, like small rooms and overhead banners is a more cost-effective approach.
One trade show display exhibit booth strategy, illustrated to the right, is to design your room and overhead structure to display your branding message and use portable, two-sided banner stands for person-sized product presentations around the booth. This allows your sales staff to quickly grab a banner stand that's appropriate for their audience and head out to a regional industry association chapter dinner program they are sponsoring.
It's always illuminating to visit a client's booth and catch the conversations. Every one is very educational and after the visitor has left you see the careful notation made about that customer and their interest. The lesson learned? If a customer stops by to ask a simple technical question, you don't need the rep to make a sales call. It's that kind of attention to detail about your customers needs and wants that will never go out of style.
Give away promotional items "swag" are always popular, one client at the show was providing all the refreshment stands with their beverage cozys for the adult beverages served. Football was the theme here along with the garb of the sales staff. They all wore the jersey of their hometown team, perfect for the playoff weekend show, shown to the right.
Smart phone use at shows is as prevalent as anywhere and the Precast Show also had a great app to centralize your show experience. All manner of information was accessible from conferences, Twitter channel, local places, maps and even your own schedule. The Precast Show is pretty old school and there were only two exhibitors Tweeting from their booth, six others were Tweeting via their social media "gal" back home. I wish LinkedIn was more savvy about mobile media and then you could set up a group. But, I learned that there is some pushback on LinkedIn, once you're in there you can't get out, especially if your company set it up. The Content Marketing Institute recently reported the following percentages of social media adoption by B2B: Google+ (39 percent), LinkedIn (83 percent), Twitter and Facebook (80 percent) and YouTube (61 percent).
Lastly, remember followup is the most important thing about your sales leads. Evidence has shown that between five and eleven contacts will be needed to turn a lead into a sale. Like Google, visitors that attend a show are in the position to buy and they will buy in the near future. Those that followup will win.
Chuck Lohre's AdVenture Presentation of examples and descriptions from Ed Lawler's book of the same title - 10 Rules On Creating Business-To-Business Ads