Tradeshows can be a great investment for B2B companies: they present you with a captive, targeted and motivated audience of prospects, give you the opportunity to check out your competition, and showcase what’s new and exciting in your industry. Use this checklist to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth out of every tradeshow.
Before the show…
- Work with show management to identify opportunities for media coverage, including trade magazines, sponsorships, app banner ads, vendor showcases.
- Showcase your company’s industry expertise by participating in panel discussions, roundtables and education sessions.
- Position your company as a thought leader by giving presentations about issues relevant to your industry (not just regurgitating information about your company).
- Post regularly about attendance on social media—be sure to include booth numbers and details about any events you will be attending. If posting to LinkedIn, you can broaden your reach by sharing on the pages of relevant groups to which you belong.
- Identify complementary companies with whom you want to do business—as a vendor, a buyer or a partner.
- Research prospects prior to the show so that when you get in front of them, you can specifically address how your company can help them.
- Find out which of your competitors are attending and what they’ll be doing while they’re there.
- Set appointments to meet with identified prospects and existing clients who are attending.
During the show…
Don’t Waste Someone’s Time
- Be brief. They paid to be there, too—and like you, they have an agenda. Leave them with a positive impression of your company by not taking more time than they’re willing to give you.
- Take notes as soon as possible following the conversation (not during!) so that you don’t forget what you talked about.
Think Outside the Booth
- Walk the floor. Check out other booths for inspiration, collect collateral (it’s a good source of competitive intel).
- Always have some business cards and your own collateral with you, in case you run into somebody you want to share it with.
- Visit hospitality lounges, attend breakfasts/luncheons/dinners (don’t sit with your coworkers!) and other events.
- Sit in on seminars and presentations.
Make it Easy to Stay in Touch
- Collect business cards for everybody you talk to.
- Ask for other contacts within their organization.
- Hand off your information (offer two business cards and ask them to deliver the second one to another contact within their organization).
After the show…
- Don’t just file or throw away people’s contact information—add it to Salesforce (or the CRM of your choice).
- Send emails or hand-written notes right away, while your interaction is still fresh in your prospects’ minds.
Conduct a Post-mortem
- Hold a meeting soon after the show (maybe even in the hotel lobby, before your team leaves) to debrief. Discuss what went well, and what you could have done better. Be sure to take notes.
- Determine what you should do differently next year. Should you increase your budget for a particular show, or would your money be better spent on another opportunity?
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. You should be exhausted by the time you head home from a tradeshow—but you should also have a good supply of leads, information and inspiration that make your hard work worthwhile.
We want to hear from you! Share your tradeshow successes and horror stories, or ask us how to get more out of your tradeshow experience by leaving a comment below.