Last year, the WVC had more than 515 exhibitors, while the NAVC boasted 4029 exhibiting companies. When it comes to tradeshows, there’s no shortage of competition and, unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough time for conference attendees to visit each and every exhibiting booth.
The best way to maximize your tradeshow ROI is to draw in and meet as many potential leads at the tradeshow as possible. Simply having a booth is a good start, but it likely won’t bring in enough prospects to justify your tradeshow budget.
Several factors can weaken your chances of attracting a solid number of leads, and we’re calling out the 6 most common and damaging factors that can be easily corrected with a little planning. If you’re making any of the following mistakes at tradeshows, it’s probably time to adjust your strategy to improve your ROI and make the tradeshow worth your time and money.
The Top 6 Reasons People Aren’t Visiting Your Tradeshow Booth:
1. You Didn’t Make Appointments
Attracting people to your booth doesn’t have to start when the tradeshow does. Before you even set foot in the conference hall, it is essential to create a pre-show marketing campaign and reach out to attendees before the event begins. Gain access to the pre-show attendee list and design a marketing campaign to engage attendees and attract them to your booth. If you’re hosting an event or contest in your booth, make sure to mention it in your pre-show marketing campaign to catch prospects’ attention and encourage them to visit your booth during the show.
If you are well-established in the industry, you can also take things a little further. Do you know that some of your prospects are going to be at the tradeshow? How about leads from tradeshows past? Dust off your list of contacts and start setting up appointments to have people meet with you at your tradeshow booth. Keep an eye out on social media for people attending and contact them as well. Set up as many appointments as possible pre-show. This allows you to drive traffic to your booth before the show has even begun.
Pre-show marketing ties into the closed loop strategy that should be essential to your tradeshow marketing. The closed loop consists of three parts: pre-show, onsite, and post-event. No tradeshow strategy is complete without preparing for all three parts. The goal of pre-show marketing is to drive traffic to your onsite event. Marketing during the onsite event involves creating an engaging experience that also allows you to gather contact information from attendees so you can continue the discussion through post-show marketing. It’s all about developing an engaging booth experience that gives the attendee what they are looking for: a memorable experience.
2. You Aren’t Speaking at the Tradeshow
Does your company have a representative giving a talk at the tradeshow? No? Why not? Speaking at a tradeshow is a fantastic way to let people know that your company is there, and to attract them to your booth. It provides your company with exposure and the opportunity to position yourselves as leaders in the industry.
The speech you give at a tradeshow should never be about your company, but if your talk is interesting, novel, and demonstrates thought leadership in the industry, people will willingly seek you and your company out later to learn more. Leverage the talk as an opportunity to demonstrate how well your company understands a particular aspect of the industry, and attendees will trust that you know what you’re doing and want to work with you.
3. You Haven’t Developed or Committed to a Theme
Tradeshow booths can all look the same: branded booths with the company’s colors and logo slapped on. Often, tradeshow displays are well-designed, but also fairly boring to look at. One great way to stand out in the sea of banners and booths is to develop a theme. Your theme can be as creative as you want, just as long as it ties back into your product or company.
A great theme serves to attract people to your booth to see what all the fuss is about, but it should also be an excellent lead into your elevator pitch. When the attendee asks what’s up with the fire-eaters or sword-swallowers, you have the perfect opportunity to explain how they relate to your product. The key to a successful theme is to make it both product-relevant and eye-catching.
If you build it, they will come. This motto may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it probably won’t be nearly as effective for your tradeshow booth. If your team is sitting behind a table, waiting for passersby to come up to the booth, you’re guaranteed to meet fewer people and gather fewer leads. Don’t let those tradeshow dollars go to waste when a little bit of training can make a whole world of difference!
Train your team to get up and out from behind the tradeshow table. Encourage them to go into the aisles and actually speak to people passing by. This tactic allows your team to engage with people and draw them into your booth. It is possible to be too aggressive in this approach, but as long as your team stays friendly and open and avoids being too pushy, you shouldn’t have any problems. The simple act of stepping out of your booth is one of the easiest methods for increasing your leads.
5. You Aren’t Promoting on Social Media
Does the tradeshow have a specific hashtag? Make sure you’re using that hashtag to promote your upcoming and current presence at the tradeshow. If you’re have a promotion or giveaway going on, make sure to use the tradeshow hashtag to let people know that there are great reasons to visit your booth. And reply to other people using the hashtag, when relevant. Keeping active on social will remind people that you’re at the tradeshow and encourage them to stop by and see you. Plus engaging one-on-one with people on social will make them feel more connected to your brand and more likely to seek you out.
6. You Aren’t Using Props
If your booth doesn’t boast something interesting or entertaining for people to engage with, why should they pay you a visit? Give attendees a reason to approach your booth. A tradeshow is one of the few situations in which you get to meet with your prospects face-to-face, so take advantage of the live setting by engaging their senses. Are you launching a new product? Consider showing an intriguing video or 3D animation demonstrating how the product works or even better, give a live product demo that the prospect can touch and feel.
Whatever the theme you have chosen, consider adding interactive elements to your booth to match that theme. That could involve a contest, a raffle, or a game that provides the opportunity to win an awesome product-related prize. Make sure to keep generating those leads though; have attendees sign up with their contact information in order to participate or play.
Tradeshows can be a great place to reach new contacts and generate new leads. Maximize your investment by avoiding these common tradeshow mistakes and give attendees every reason to visit your booth and connect with your company.