Exhibiting at a trade show is a powerful marketing tool to drive brand awareness and generate leads.
Guest blogger, Jo Bayne, has extensive experience in advising clients how to make sure that their presence at a Trade Show is worth it. Here are her recommended 9 steps to ensure you maximise the return on investment in both time and money.

1. Set objectives
Define what you would like to get from exhibiting, for example increase sales, launch a new product or recruit new employees. You also need to define how you will measure success – for example by: number of leads, investment per lead, number of attendees at your presentation.

2. Do your research
Before you sign up for an event find out if the show is a good fit for your company. Who attends the show and do they marry with your target audience. What have the attendance levels been in the past? Do your competitors attend?

3. Choose a good location
When selecting your stand space the early bird catches the worm – so book in advance. In order to get the best exposure look for spaces that have high footfall, near the entrance, on corners or near food stations.

4. Do plenty of pre-show promotion
Ensure you shout loud and proud about your show attendance. The show organisers may share their attendee list as well as press list. Use compelling advertising to drive brand awareness, eShots and direct mail can be used to drive footfall to your stand. Send out a press release to generate some excitement and an interest in your company or product.

5. Invest in a good stand design
The best stand designs will have visual impact and show at a glance who you are and how you service your clients through clear and concise messaging. From a pull up banner to a bespoke built stand it’s wise to invest in experienced stand designers to make sure you stand out from the crowd and look professional.

6. Prepare your people
Make sure your team know how to sell your product and are enthusiastic about your business. Ensure you have enough staff to take shifts and breaks and ensure they make a good impression by not eating or taking calls on the stand.

7 Produce hand-outs
From flyers to promotional give-aways ensure your hand-outs are good quality, professional pieces of marketing collateral. You want to be remembered for the right reasons and your handouts should be brand compliant, include your logo and contact details and, where space allows, promote the benefits of doing business with you.

8. Capture and follow up your leads
It’s vital to ensure an efficient lead management process. Collect business cards, categorise them and annotate with what was discussed, wants, needs, etc. Alternatively invest in a badge scanner and automate the process. Strike whilst the iron’s hot and follow each prospect up promptly before they go cold. Schedule emails and calls but personalise your correspondence where possible.

9. Measure the results After the show review your objectives and analyse the number of leads you generated versus the amount of money you spent. Look at what lessons you learnt from the experience and modify your plans for the next show.

By Jo Bayne, Oyster Studios, Marketing and Graphic Design Agency

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