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How to Boost Trade Show ROI

May 24, 2016

Now that you’ve spent the larger part of your sales and marketing budget on your trade show display, you hope it translates into a positive return on your investment. Trade shows do offer a fantastic platform to increase awareness for your company. But quite often, exhibitors fall short in taking full advantage of the opportunities trade shows offer. Rolling in with a trunk full of collateral and some give-aways are far from acceptable especially if you’re trying to boost trade show ROI. The actions and decisions you make well in advance and after of the show will greatly influence your success and ultimately your ROI. To help you get the most out of your next trade show we’ve listed 5 tips to up your success!

1. Speaking Opportunity – Trade show organizers plan easily a year out, which means they begin building presenters into the schedule early. Get in on the action and reach out well in advance to try to secure a speaking engagement. This is the perfect platform to show your knowledge, your ideas, your product or service and position yourself and your company as industry leaders.

2. Promote Prior to the Show
– Remember that saying, “The early bird gets the worm?” It’s still holds true today. Get a jump-start on your trade show prospecting by promoting your attendance well before the actual show. Email your list and invite them to stop by for whatever experiences you may be offering. If you’ve secured a speaking opportunity, invite them to your session. Share your participation on social media. Create an engagement strategy. Start early, if you are just designing a booth, share photos of the construction stages. Create a contest with a prize that must be picked up at your booth. Are you planning on serving drinks? Have people submit names for your signature drink. Will you be playing music? Share a few bars and ask people to ‘name that tune’. Get attendees excited about an in-booth promotion you’ll be offering. 
Pre-show marketing to your ideal target audience can have a dramatic effect on the number of people who visit your booth and the number of appointments you schedule for the show, which in turn will boost your trade show ROI.

3. Lead Generation – Know your target market and focus on attracting those prospects to your booth. It’s easy to get caught up in the energy and traffic of a trade show, but you’re not after traffic, you want highly targeted traffic. You achieve that through proper pre-show planning, including booth design. It’s easy for your space on the trade show floor to get lost in the sea of booths, so knowing how to stand out and speak to your ideal audience is crucial. We’re emotional creatures, we act and react according to how something makes us feel. Designing a space that appeals to the emotions can help draw people in. Before you even design your booth, ask the following questions:

  • What message are you trying to convey?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What do you want people to experience as a result of stepping into your space?
  • What do you want the overall vibe of your booth to be?

The goal is to communicate the most important benefits of your company quickly and effectively. In this case less really is more, simply because you’re competing with a host of other booths, many filled with all the bells and whistles just screaming for attention. While it’s important to appeal to the senses, most exhibitors’ focus only on the visual aspects, step it up by touching other senses – we have five of them, so get creative. Music, food and drink are quick ways to play to the emotions. Take it a bit further by adding a simple game or tradition that may be indicative of your product. Think in terms of engagement, what can you do that will invite people to interact?

4. Offer Clever Giveaways – Promotional giveaways will always attract attendees to your exhibit, but they may not be the people you want to reach. Rather than offering a jar full of stress balls or branded key chains that will disappear faster than your kids from a dirty kitchen, think tactically. Don’t offer a freebie to every attendee that only invites everyone to your booth. The goal is to attract quality leads. Did you run a contest prior to the show? Can you duplicate that giveaway to qualified prospects? Are you serving a signature drink? Can you give branded glassware or your branded ‘signature’ drink mix? Are you playing music representative of your brand? Can you give a branded CD with the music mix? Every aspect of your trade show booth experience should be focused on achieving the end result: to get more business.

5. Follow Up – According to an article in Success Magazine, approximately only 40% of sales people follow up with leads after a trade show. That’s almost criminal, especially given all the effort that goes into a show. But let’s face it, it’s easy to neglect those leads, we get busy and our intention of getting around to them gets shelved along with a host of other ‘to do’ items. You can ease the follow-up, with a little pre-show preparation. The simplest and perhaps the quickest follow up method is to send an e-blast. But what about taking a more creative approach and spending the extra time to send a handwritten thank you note. Yes, it takes some effort, but it will be far more appreciated. A handwritten note can set you apart as someone who will go the extra mile and that speaks volumes to people. A quick, personalized method is to take photos of guests in your booth; print them on-site and either write a note directly on the photo or include it in a branded thank you card or postcard. Set aside time at the end of each trade show day to write a quick note. Let the photo do the talking, the fact is you’ll get it done and most people will not.

The key to designing an effective trade show exhibit is to remember your objective for the event. The intention is not to entertain or wow visitors, those are just means to an end. The goal is to secure more business. The trade show and its components are simply a platform on which to build business success. By implementing these 5 tips, you’ll be proactively taking steps to boost your trade show ROI.

Connect with Visit Newport Beach on LinkedIn to see the trade shows we’ll be attending this year.

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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