Putting up a good show is no joke. You have to don several hats to pull off one – apart from being a storyteller and a tech-savvy marketer, you also have to be a strategist, and unless you become one, it would be difficult for you to weave your brand story through your entire marketing mix, which in turn will affect the show’s performance.
Strategic Planning For Your Next Trade Show
1. Put your objectives on paper: What your organization wants to achieve in general may not be the same as what they seek from the show. Don’t mistake one for the other. Identify your objectives for the show and write them down. Also, figure out what the audience expects from the show you are participating in, and make a note. Make sure that the team you put together for the show has a clear understanding of the objectives.
2. Make the most of your budget: Budgetary constraints may pull you back, but you need to find a way around. Talk to the management or the board of directors to get more money for the show. Make a case by creating an urgency and pointing to industry benchmarks. If they don’t loosen the noose, prioritize things. Either way, let go of the “that’s how we have been doing it” approach, and address the challenges right away.
3. Step into the audience’s shoes: As mentioned earlier, your strategy for the show should be in tandem with what the audience wants.
– Are they the decision makers? If yes, what could possibly motivate them to decide?
– What is their objective of coming to the show?
– If it’s information that they want, is trade show the only place they head to? Or do they also look for it online?
4. Use insights to your advantage: Have you noticed an increase in the attendance of the show you are about to participate in? Great, right? Well, is the increase rate in sync with the industry’s growth? If that’s a no, the show has been rather underperforming, and might need you to tweak your strategy accordingly. The idea is to get your hands on the available data and make informed decisions. Even if you can only grab hold of the satisfaction surveys and feedbacks, do give them serious thought before you come up with a strategy.
5. Avoid the last-minute chaos: Unless you engage your audience throughout the year, they won’t be turning up at the show. Year-long engagement or the lack thereof could be the difference between success and failure. So if you want to retain and grow your audience, here’s what you need to do:
– Come up with a communications strategy, one that goes down well with the target audience and can pique their interest all through the year
– Maintain your presence and make every attempt to increase brand awareness
– Spark a discussion whenever you can
– Make your audience feel valued
To cut the long story short, you need a good plan, one that not only lets you capture the attention of your audience, but also establish a connection.