Let smart planning, strategic thinking and professional restraint lead you to a successful tradeshow.
Producing a truly winning tradeshow involves smart planning, strategic thinking and professional restraint. By making careful choices throughout the entire process, you can create lasting success for years to come.
Here at Blue House Sales Group, we work mainly with nonprofit associations where the tradeshows we represent are held in conjunction with annual meetings, symposiums and other educational experiences. This creates a built-in audience for the exhibitors and allows for targeted marketing–ensuring that both attendees and exhibitors get exactly what they’re looking for out of the event.
With our twenty years of experience, we’ve compiled a number of helpful tips for making your tradeshow as successful as possible. Here are three of those tips.
1. Smart Planning
Choosing a Venue
When planning a tradeshow, one of the first things to do is choose an exhibit hall or venue. It’s important to keep in mind the theme of your event, your target market and the possible exhibit hall layout when making this decision. Depending on the number of exhibitors and attendees, your tradeshow could be held anywhere from a hotel ballroom to a large convention center. But no matter the venue size, it’s crucial to design an exhibit hall layout that allows for enough space for attendees to comfortably move from booth to booth.
Once you’re ready to promote your tradeshow, develop a marketing campaign and promotion timeline that is tailored to most effectively reach your specific audience. Depending on your client base, you may want to consider email blasts, phone campaigns, flyers, magazine ads, social media marketing or a combination of methods. The goal is to use this strategic marketing schedule to build a successful sales cycle.
A Well-Planned Schedule
Another logistical factor to consider is the schedule for the event itself. This planning includes careful coordination with and consideration for the attendees. When creating a show schedule, remember to include move-in and move-out periods for the exhibitors, and consider events like Welcome Receptions and coffee-break networking events. Most importantly, give attendees dedicated exhibit hall hours—devoting a certain amount of time to exclusively allow for attendees to explore the show floor with no other meeting or seminar conflicts.
2. Strategic thinking
The Right Ratio
Make sure the number of attendees is well balanced to the number of booths at the tradeshow. Finding the right balance will vary from industry to industry, but in general, a ratio that favors the attendee is better. We recommend having three attendees to every exhibiting company, if possible.
The Extra Mile
It’s the little things that can make a good tradeshow great, so it’s important to factor in those extra conveniences when planning your show. Make sure to have plenty of bottled water on hand and remember that snacks and meals will help keep people in the exhibit hall. Consider your audience when coming up with the catering menu—if the hosting association advocates healthy eating, for example, be sure to have low-calorie or natural food options available. Keep in mind the location of your tradeshow as well; consider including regional specialties for attendees looking to try new things.
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi is an essential element to any tradeshow. Providing a sound Wi-Fi connection allows for live-streaming, blogging and social media updates from attendees and exhibitors. You can generate additional buzz in the industry by creating an official hashtag for your event and encouraging your guests to use it. Make sure attendees can keep tweeting with a fully charged battery: cell phone charging stations are a little convenience that will be deeply appreciated.
3. Professional Restraint
As you’re planning your trade show, it can be tempting to cut out aspects of the attendee experience in favor of generating more money from exhibitors. You may feel that you could squeeze in more booths than you’d originally planned (skewing that golden attendee-to-exhibitor ratio) or maybe cut out some of the networking events—but that doesn’t mean you should. When you start to feel yourself cramming too much in, take a step back. Remember why you made those initial decisions in the first place—to give attendees and exhibitors a better experience. Don’t lose sight of the goal.