How to ensure that your participation in a trade show is profitable

The decision to take part in a trade show must be well thought-out, and form part of your organization's marketing and sales plan. To maximize your investment, it's essential to plan your participation carefully and define your objectives.

1. Plan your participation

Before participating in a trade show, you must first set specific objectives, which may be multiple: meet new customers, increase the company's visibility, obtain media exposure, introduce new products, increase sales, etc. A little advice: set measurable objectives that will help you calculate your return on investment. Then, make a budget forecast that takes into account costs such as exhibition fees, booth set-up costs, communications, accommodation if applicable, equipment rental, transportation, etc. These steps will allow you to determine the show that best suits your objectives and your budget.

It is also important to know who will be attending the trade show. Consult attendees' profiles and identify those who are potential customers you would like to meet personally. You can then contact them to let them know you will be there and to get them interested in your organization.

2. Optimize your on-site presence

It's good to participate in a trade show, but you still need to ensure you'll be seen to stand out from the other exhibitors. How do you do that? Here are a few tips. Make sure you choose the right location for your booth. If your budget allows it, choose a corner spot or a place near the food court. Since these areas generate more traffic, it will be more profitable.

To stand out from the crowd, offer original animation at your booth. Whether it's a draw or interactive games, the goal is to encourage interaction and engage potential customers in a conversation.

In addition, make sure the team present at the show are friendly, dynamic, knowledgeable about your organization, and familiar with the sales pitch. On-site representatives should be able to identify interesting prospects and answer visitors' questions.

Also, consider incorporating technology, such as a badge reader, to collect information/contact information from visitors who stop by your booth so you can follow up with them.

3. Define a follow-up strategy

At the end of the show, it is essential to organize a meeting with the on-site team to take stock and establish what went well and what needs improvement. At this stage, you will also be able to establish new strategies and tactics based on the competitive intelligence gathered during the show.

Also, answer specific, quantifiable questions. How many qualified leads were met during the event? How many people per day stopped by the booth? How many people were waiting at the booth; how many did not show up? This will allow you, among other things, to confirm if you have reached your objectives.

It is also essential to communicate quickly with the customers you meet to show them that they are important to you. Send them additional information about your organization and your products; offer them to organize a meeting or propose a phone call. For customers who are further along in the conversion channel, communicate with them all the same, but in a less personalized way.

It's important to note that the benefits are not always immediate. Patience is key! Good planning and active participation pay off in the long run.