How to Get the Most ROI Out of Manufacturing Industry Trade Shows | Part Two

Part Two | Preparing a Profitable Trade Show Strategy

In part one of this series How to Select Manufacturing Industry Trade Shows with the Highest Potential ROI, we offered tips on how to select which manufacturing industry trade shows to attend. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. Once you have finalized your trade show calendar for the year, there are several steps that you should take to ensure that you maximize the number of high quality leads you receive. In this post, we’ll outline how to prepare a profitable manufacturing industry trade show strategy to turn your trade show attendance into a profitable lead generating activity.

Here are the 8 steps to help you maximize your ROI as an exhibitor at a manufacturing industry trade show:

#1 Choose Your Booth Location Carefully

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a manufacturer is to make a hasty decision on your booth location. In general, the best options are as follows:

  • Close to the exhibit hall entrance
  • On a major aisle
  • Within close proximity to high traffic areas, such as snack bars and restrooms
  • Proximity to target industry alliances and potential distributor booths

#2  Most Importantly, Have a Strategy for Each Manufacturing Industry Trade Show you Attend

Know which manufacturing industry trade shows your team will attend well in advance. This gives you time to create a strategy, prepare your approach and all required booth materials before attending a trade show. This includes doing some research on your competitors who will be attending and any target distributors or alliances you wish to appeal to. Considerations to include in your strategy:

  • Define your aim: first consider your objectives for attending the trade show: are you wanting to make contacts with industry alliances, a new distributor, end-users or all three? Which target audience does the manufacturing industry trade show cater to most?
  • Identify your competitors’ tactics: what will my competitors most likely be showcasing. What can we do better or differently than them in a way that matters to our target customer? You can often find this information from your competitors website and social media activity leading up to trade shows.
  • Create appeal: what are the most common questions and requests we receive from our target customers? Knowing this tells you what key messaging, features and benefits to include in your trade show marketing materials and presentations.
  • Abolish onboarding barriers: what are the most common objectives we hear when pitching our products, or the most likely barriers that will keep our target customers from doing business with us now? Knowing this information tells you what kind of information, reassurance and offers to provide in your trade show presentation and marketing materials.
  • Tailor your approach: knowing who your target customers at the trade show are, why they’re attending, and what their top questions, concerns, needs and desires are can help you craft your presentation, conversational tone and talking points. You want your approach to be natural and not too presumptuous, but also make an impression that sets you apart from all other handshakes, business cards and conversations circulating in the crowd.
  • Make it easy to do business with you: what can you offer at the trade show to encourage your target audience to take the next step? Samples, free demos, free trials, value added, immediate purchase? Create an easy onboarding process that you can offer at your trade show that creates a clear next step in your customer onboarding funnel.
  • Announce your attendance: leading up to the trade show, use your website and social media platforms to announce your upcoming attendance. Include pictures from the last show (if possible) and make sure to include a link to event details and ticket information. Do this weekly during the months leading up to the show, and then even daily as the trade show date nears. Include shout-outs to any industry partners who are attending as well. Doing so encourages them to share your posts with their audience too. This is a good time to boost your posts so your announcements reach an even larger audience.
  • Collect contact information and key conversation details from everyone you meet: ask them if you may personally follow up with them after the show, and how you may best reach them. Have contact sheets made in advance that allow space for your team to jot a few quick details about each lead and what was discussed at the show. This will be essential for step #7 of your post trade show follow-up plan.
  • Photographic evidence: take lots of pictures and short video clips while travelling to and exhibiting at the trade show and even suitable activities before and afterwards that showcase your company’s team and culture. Upload your photos and video content, in real-time if possible, to your social media platforms, announcing your attendance and inviting other attendees to drop by your booth. Following the trade show, pictures and videos can be repurposed and used for website and blog content, and helps showcase your team’s approachability and active industry involvement.

#3 Invest in Attractive Signage and Materials that Clearly Showcases your Brand and Key Benefits

When designing marketing materials and signage, you want to first consider your objectives for attending the trade show, who will be attending (the audience) and who you’re wanting to appeal to most (your target customers). Once you know who you want to appeal to, consider what key messaging and product features will appeal to them most. Build your trade show marketing materials around the questions they are most likely to ask, and the product features and benefits they are most likely to need or want. Be prepared to provide information and address your target customers’ most common questions, objectives and concerns. Choose your strongest salespeople and product ambassadors for the job!

Signage should look new, clean and modern. Branding and any key messaging should be clear enough to be legible from a distance.

Invest in re-usable, professionally designed signage that showcases your brand and creates appeal for your target audience. Keep money in the budget to replace signage and trade show materials as soon as they begin to show age or wear. You only have one chance to make a solid first impression.

#4 Strategically Display your Latest Cutting-Edge Products

Make sure that you position your newest products where they can be easily viewed by attendees. Here are some ways that you can showcase your latest products:

  • Perform product demonstrations during the expo
  • Use lighting to steer attention to key products and features
  • Make sure your products are clean and working properly

#5 Draw Them In

One great way to draw more attendees to your booth, break the ice and collect their contact information, is to host a draw or contest giveaway. If your products aren’t suitable as prizes, consider something that is complementary to your offerings and appeals to your customers.

#6 Be Prepared to Fill Orders 

Trade shows are more than just a means of showing off your equipment; They offer a fantastic opportunity to close sales and develop lasting relationships with customers and industry alliances. Arrive prepared to process credit cards, accept purchase orders, and take cash deposits.

#7 Have a Post Trade Show Follow-Up Plan 

If you’ve ever attended a  trade show, you know how just about everyone leaves with a bag stuffed with swag, catalogues, brochures and cards which often either get tossed aside or forgotten until much later. This is why having a personalized follow-up plan is key. In step #2 above, we recommended your team use a contact sheet to quickly take down details about the leads they meet and what was discussed. These talking points will enable them to pick up the conversations where they left of, and address any questions or interests your leads expressed at the trade show. Have a reason for calling and a next step that helps either qualify your leads, or move them through the next stage of your customer conversion funnel. This may include offering them a post-show onboarding incentive.

#8 Seek the Expertise of a Full-Service Marketing Agency

One of the best ways to make sure that your manufacturing industry trade show investments pay off is to enlist the guidance of an experienced marketing expert. To learn more about maximizing your ROI through manufacturing industry trade shows, contact our team of experts today at McAllister Marketing. We’re a full service agency specializing in tactics that help you attract, convert and retain more customers.

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