Trade Shows: Are You Taking Advantage of the Media Opportunities?

By Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman, Sonnhalter

TradeshowimageIndustry trade shows are much more than just a chance to get out of the office and mingle with prospective customers, answering questions about the newest product launches with aching feet and dry mouths. Industry trade shows are actually terrific opportunities for connecting with industry trade editors who are attending the trade shows to report on the latest and greatest happenings in their markets.

Here are a few ideas to take advantage of the editors’ presence:

1. Schedule editor meetings at your booth. Contact the trade show management a couple of months ahead of time to obtain its list of registered media. Review the list and identify editors who are key to your industry or who are unfamiliar with your products and services, but should be familiar.

Contact the editors to determine if they are interested in meeting with a company representative. Chances are they will be. Editors want to make the best use of their time at trade shows to gather information that they can share with the readers of their publications, e-newsletters and on their websites, to showcase the latest industry trends. Make sure you are prepared to walk the editor through a short presentation and demonstration of your company’s products or services at the booth and then leave them with a thumb drive or a link to follow-up press materials.

2. Press events. Have a worthy product introduction or key company news? Depending on its newsworthiness [see below], a press event, in the form of a media breakfast, media luncheon or media cocktail hour, is an extremely effective method for conveying important company information and building favorable media relationships.

Depending on the trade show’s rules and regulations, the event can be held at your company’s booth before or after show hours, or at a nearby hotel or restaurant venue. A short presentation by company executives, demonstrations, networking, socializing and the all-important leave-behind press materials can make for a very valuable hour and a half event for key media contacts.

3. Press conferences. Reserved for only the most important of company announcements, it is recommended that press conferences be planned judiciously. While we like to believe that our company’s product improvement is extremely important to the industry—in perspective, it may not be perceived as quite that important to busy editors that are shuffling through multiple invitations and parceling out their precious time.

Make sure a press conference is warranted, because an empty press conference room will be a disappointment to not only the team that planned it, but also the company executives.

Are you taking advantage of these trade show opportunities with industry trade media? If you’re not, you should be!

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Trade Shows: Are You Telling a Compelling Story?

I don’t know about you, but we go to lots of trade shows during the course of a year, and I sometimes scratch my head as I walk by some of the booths and say,“What were they thinking?”

Either they haven’t had a new message in years or they are talking so much about me, me, me that I wonder why anyone would walk into their booth. I’m not talking about small companies either. I’m sure some of them have seven-figure trade show budgets. I always wonder what kind of metric they use (or are forced to report to management to justify ROI)?

Trade show booth exampleSo let’s step back for a minute and assume that you have a great product, customer service to die for and a sales staff that understands and can articulate your value proposition. My question is, “Does your trade show booth tell a compelling story of why folks should be doing business with you?” If that value proposition doesn’t stick out and scream at potentials, then you may be wasting valuable time, talent and resources that can be put to use elsewhere.

Your pre-show checklist should include:

  • Defining the show objective based on the target audience that is attending the show. Highlight what’s in it for me, the customer.
  • Defining the types of leads you want to come out of the show with. (Remember, quality over quantity.)
  • Defining how to qualify them as to where they are in the sales funnel.
  • Communicating your trade show objectives with the folks that will be working the booth. Let them know what is expected of them.
  • Have post-show follow-up all ready to go before you go to the show so it can be implemented as soon as you get back. Thank you note, phone scripts and who’s doing what.
  • Review the content you’re sending out after the show so it corresponds with what the prospect is looking for (product info, distributor, local contractor).
  • When sending something, make it be something of value – a copy of your latest e-book, a competitive crossover chart. Something that will help them do their job better and make them feel good about you. Sales will follow.

Trade shows are so expensive, and to make the most out of them, you need a plan.

What kinds of things are you doing to maximize your trade shows?

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