5 Tips for Success After a Trade Show or Conference

The 2016 NADA Convention is fast approaching; here's how exhibitors can make the most of it

Businesses that want to get the most out of a trade show know it’s no easy task. A lot of time, money, and energy are put into thinking about pre-event marketing and the on-site experience.



That’s all great, but don’t forget what comes next after attendees leave the trade show floor. Thinking critically about how to make the most of your presence after a trade show can be just as beneficial for future relationships, and in the end, help garner new contacts and sales.

Here are five tips and tricks to help you succeed after your next trade show:

1. Use the last day of a show for a giveaway

Serious attendees can run out of time, so use the last day of a show as an opportunity to give unique giveaways that have your brand/name on them. Think outside the car world for this giveaway—it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Try mini traveling bags with light reading magazines (People, Food Network Magazine, Car and Driver, etc.), flip-flops, or facial mist—anything that creates a special treat for a tired traveler can be a welcome gift that will make attendees think of your company when on the plane or in the car on the way home. Just don’t forget to be TSA friendly!

2. Spend time thinking of a follow-up strategy

Create a timeline for follow up after the show—don’t leave this until the last minute. It should be part of your overall planning document for every show. For example, send thank you emails with a marketing brochure one to two days after the show (if not sooner) to keep your company top of mind. Add a personal note, and schedule times to follow-up with tangible “asks” one or two weeks later. Also, include a photo of yourself and your booth so that attendees will remember right away who you are.

3. Don’t forget to be social

Connect with attendees after the show by posting pictures of the event. For example, if you have a photo booth on site, don’t let people just walk off with the photos—make sure you save some to post on your website for downloading. That way you’re driving people to your website (people love photos of themselves).

4. Make your follow-up is specific

You started a conversation—don’t let it die. Make sure that when you reconnect with guests you are using the notes that you took during your original meeting on the trade show floor. It might sound simple, but it can have a real impact if you start by referencing the conversation you had with them on the sales floor.

5. Have a debriefing meeting with your team to make next year even better

Don’t forget to do your internal follow-up. Make sure to connect with your team, going over highlights of the event and ideas to improve. Come away with new goals on how to make the next event even better—or discuss if the event is worth doing again next year. At the end of this meeting, write up an after-action report to collate and share the team’s thoughts and observations with upper management.

Don’t lose the momentum after your next show—impressions from the show may linger for a few days to a week but taper off quickly afterward. Be sure to tap into the buzz while it’s fresh.

Robb Clawson is the director of marketing and communications for Hargrove Inc., a global leader in events, trade shows, and exhibits. He has run trade show exhibits and events throughout his career, including several NADA shows while at Experian Automotive.

Photo credit: Vira Mylyan-Monastyrska / Shutterstock.com
Robb Clawson

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