Vegas, baby! How to get the most out of trade shows

You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, but trade shows remain one of the best ways to “kick the tires” of a host of products and services in one or two days.

With new trade shows popping up every year, skyrocketing exhibit costs and a multitude of look-alike companies vying for the attention of fewer attendees, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead to get the most for your trade show budget.

Here are just a few ways to maximize your marketing and communications budgets by injecting energy into your trade shows.

  1. Meet with the media. Reporters who cover an industry often use trade shows as forums for gathering more information and building relationships. Contact reporters 2-3 weeks before the show and invite them to individual meetings at your booth or at an on-site conference room.
  2. Make an announcement.  Smaller trade shows are great venues for making an important announcement, such as a product launch or upgrade. Plan ahead to secure a venue and invite reporters, and make sure your announcement doesn’t conflict with other announcements or with important trade show events/seminars.
  3. Announce in advance. Large trade shows often are too busy to be conducive for anything other than the most impressive announcements. For large shows, consider making announcements a week or two before a trade show. This creates excitement that drives traffic to your booth.
  4. Work the media early. Many trade shows have a show daily that provides opportunities to highlight your product or service. Likewise, many industry trade publications produce show preview issues. Contact editors well in advance with information on what you’re showcasing in your booth. Don’t forget to provide high-quality photos.
  5. Be a speaker. Contact the show organizer 8-12 months before the show and request a “Calls for Presentation” package. When proposing a speaker, keep your topic focused on what will benefit the audience. Look at the program from the previous year to get an idea of what show organizers are looking for. Whenever possible, suggest a dual presentation with a customer.
  6. Leverage social media.  While attending the show, post pictures from the event, Tweet about the action on the floor and post online invitations telling people your booth number and what you are featuring at the show.
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