The trade show world can be a daunting one – the variety and sheer number of events that are held throughout the year can make selecting the right one a tricky task. Furthermore, once that elusive speaking slot and/or exhibition space has been secured, what can be done from a public relations perspective to make attending truly worth the money and help fuel the all-important sales funnel?
Here are the top ten things to bear in mind.
1. Pick the right show: Before choosing your show, it is crucial to think about what your business goals are. What do you want to achieve by attending? By considering whether you want to network, gain industry insight, or capture new prospect leads, you can whittle down your list. Similarly, looking back at the history of shows, conducting some research into the audience, and reading previous reviews, can help determine whether this is the right show for your business. There are loads of event lists and tools which can also help.
2. Secure a speaking slot: So, the event is relevant, and you have gone ahead and confirmed your exhibition space. Now it is time to secure a speaking slot at the event. This is the best way to reach as much of your audience as possible and can help encourage people to visit your company’s stand. It is necessary to pitch a topic that is at the forefront of your industry so that it is engaging and positions your firm as thought leaders. In addition, you can use that presentation for further PR opportunities after the event itself – your speaker’s insights are incredibly valuable – turning it into a byline to pitch out later, for instance, can be a great way to maximise the content.
3. Ask to see the media attendee list: Are there any journalists attending that you want to meet? This is a great opportunity to speak to them and showcase your business. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get in front of a journalist so approaching them at a trade show is a great way to start building that relationship that may eventually lead to future coverage. If you don’t manage to meet, follow up afterwards with media who couldn’t attend briefings.
4. Take notes of the keynote themes/topics spoken about: Making a note of what is discussed by your peers is a good starting point for your own thought leadership – what is your opinion? Is it different? And does your company offer a unique solution to any problems currently facing your industry? For larger industry events, consider writing a ‘round-up’ piece which includes key takeaways and predications for the year ahead. This can be used as a blog or for approaching your media targets after the show.
5. Should you launch a new product/service? Be careful here – if you are exhibiting alongside FTSE 250 companies it is likely your launch will get lost. Sometimes it pays off to attend a particularly niche show where your voice will get heard by a more targeted audience.
6. Savvy social: Before, during, and after the event, make sure that your business is tweeting about the show (always use the event hashtag to amplify your content and ensure its seen by influential people), and make sure that images are incorporated into those posts, so they get as much traction as possible. Also, including relevant links to content on the company website is a great way to drive relevant people to your website. Make sure to include your booth number and/or location at the event to drive attendees to your stand.
7. Speak to your sales team: Do they have any targets attending the event? How can you work together to secure that business? By working together, you are more likely to get that all-important new business lead which makes attending the event useful.
8. Don’t ignore the analysts: If your company is featured in any technical research (such as Gartner or Forrester), trade shows are an excellent way to get in front of the analysts writing those papers. Contacting the analysts before hand to arrange a briefing to discuss the benefits and uniqueness of what your company offers is a brilliant time-saver.
9. Influence the influencers: Attend their talks to gain valuable insights. If they make any comments that resonate with your company’s messages, then send them a link to relevant content on your website to try and ignite a relationship with them.
10. Maximise your mobile: The cameras on smartphones are of an incredibly high quality these days. Buying a cheap phone stand means you immediately need to have a camera to document the event. It’s easy to create great video just using your mobile. This content can then be used across social and your website.