Exhibiting at a conference or trade show is an effective way to market your business. These events offer unique business opportunities, as they give you immediate access to potential partners, leaders, and customers. To successfully pull this off, you’ll need to plan ahead.
How to Run a Successful Conference or Exhibit
The benefits of a successful exhibit or conference are virtually endless. However, they require a significant time investment. It may take you 8-12 months to prepare for your show date.
Be Strategic, Make a Budget, and Set Goals | How to Run a Successful Conference
Months before the event, create a timeline that outlines project due dates and milestones. Look at it frequently to stay on track, and consider what cuts you can take if delays occur. If this is your first event, research past events to see how your competition reached its target audience.
Next, create a budget. While renting out exhibit space is the largest expenditure, you need to set aside money for booth design, shipping, show services, marketing, travel, and graphics. Finally, establish a few key goals, like leads generated, booth attendance, and increased site traffic.
Develop a Complete List of Marketing Materials | How to Run a Successful Conference
Your marketing materials will take time to create. Be sure to design, develop, and produce these items well before the event, so they’re ready to go before the big day. For the best results, research potential clients and align your marketing with the audience that’ll attend the event,
Consider the type of business swag you’ll bring, like pens, giveaway items, postcards, and magnets. Then, plan out booth materials, like business cards, brochures, booth graphics, lanyards, flyers, and leaflets. Finally, design training materials, demo products, and signs.
Plan Your Branding and Visual Messaging | How to Run a Successful Conference
Standing out at an exhibit isn’t easy, but there are things you can do before and during the event that’ll draw attention. Reach out to clients, influencers, and vendors on social media to market your booth, build a landing page, create custom gifts, and contact the media for some PR.
Consult your branding and visual messaging when thinking of ways your booth can “wow” the attendees. Demo products, bright signs, bolded fonts, and enticing presentations are the way to go but keep the booth clutter-free. If something at the booth doesn’t have a purpose, remove it.
Hire Experienced and Enthusiastic Staff | How to Run a Successful Conference
Some companies will bring their own staff to the booth, while others will hire temporary staff just for the event. This is usually the case when you lack a customer service staff or if you’re looking to attract a younger audience. Either way, the right team can connect audiences with your brand.
If you decide to hire new staff, start the recruitment process early. If you ask the right interview questions, you’ll be able to check for industry and culture fit. All staff should understand your brand, your products, and your vision and should speak confidently to clients and partners.
Follow-Up Immediately After the Exhibit | How to Run a Successful Conference
What you do after the exhibit matters just as much as what you do during the conference. You should always follow up with your leads and industry partners after the show. Most of your leads are considered warm, so don’t lose the chance to turn them into loyal customers or clients.
During the conference, document your leads with CRM software (or at least on a spreadsheet), so you can schedule a phone call or send them an email. Make your messages personalized by customizing the name and repeating something they spoke about, like their customer pain point.