Trade shows follow a very familiar pattern, no matter the industry. You want to make each show unique; however, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time. Getting ahead of the curve and having defined goals for show success is most important. Then you can build your strategies for the show, including the fast-approaching CONEXPO-CON/AGG show in Las Vegas, around those goals. (For further insight into defining trade show success, check out the previous blog post “Winning CONEXPO-CONN/AGG.”)

So where do you start? Let’s break it down. Here are four steps to a knockout trade show:

1. Begin planning 6 to 9 months prior to the show

Now is the time to define your show objectives and determine the measure for success. There is so much to think about when preparing for a trade show that if you begin too late something will get missed — and trust me it will be big. By starting well ahead, you have plenty of time to discuss all show aspects, such as new products that will be featured, show theme, attendee demographics, booth layout, technology needs and promotional strategies.

2. Launch new products

There is no better place to launch new products or special incentives than at a trade show. Yes, there will be many attendees who are just kicking tires, but the purpose of a trade shows is for your customers to see what’s new. Face it — an up close and personal view of a shiny new piece of equipment is far more effective than a glossy brochure.

3. Provide an attendee experience

Frankly, we could write an entire white paper on this subject, so we’ll keep this concise yet valuable. You need to have something that will raise your company above the noise and draw attendees to your booth. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it needs to be unique and reinforce your brand image. A giveaway, interactive demonstration, roundtable or open forum discussion, free lunch or customer reception are just a few ideas. Be unique and creative. This is where you can have some fun with your trade show strategy.

4. Don’t forget about the media
Yes, editors attend trade shows and they want to talk to you. Reach out to the show’s management for a list of editors who are attending the show. If you have a number of new product introductions, consider holding a media event in your booth, either the evening before or the morning of the first day of the show. If you decide to hold a media event, send out a media advisory to key editors two months ahead of time to get a jump on your competition.
There will always be things that don’t go as planned, such as the volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010, which disrupted a major international trade show in Munich that year. The best thing you can do is anticipate any issues and have contingency plans in place.

Last but not least — wear comfortable shoes.

About Two Rivers Marketing

Two Rivers Marketing is a full-service business-to-business (B2B) marketing communications agency. Email us with your thoughts or questions at blog@2rm.com.