As a trade show marketer, you put a lot of effort into planning and preparing for each event. Whether you do all the details yourself or you have partners who help you, in the end the success of the trade show rests on your shoulders. So how can you be sure that senior leaders see the value of your strategy and support your trade show program?
So often in planning for an event, the WHY gets overshadowed with the HOW. Things like how do we get a sponsorship, an exhibit and get people into the booth is at the forefront. In budgeting, often logistics become a huge component, like getting the exhibit from point A to B. Hidden below the HOW is the most important element that drives leaders to take notice — meeting them at their WHY and then show them your HOW.
You are in the best place in the house with front row seats to learning about every aspect of your company. As a trade show marketer, you have to simplify messaging and show it to hundreds if not thousands of people in the crowded marketplace of an exhibition hall. In order to pull off a major event, you have to know all about financial planning, budgeting, sales strategy, marketing campaigns and even regulatory restrictions — but your expertise in these areas may be invisible.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent van Gogh
Sometimes it can be hard to toot your own horn and show leadership the killer results you and your team achieved. But not sharing your results may be holding a lock on your future. Here are some strategies on how to win applause and start to build momentum for individual and team recognition.
5 Ways To Get Noticed By Senior Leaders
1.Find Out What Leaders Really Want. Many people assume that attending a show is about the sales formula of cost per lead, which is the traditional method of measuring against your budget.
‣ ROI- is different for every marketing program. If leads aren’t being tracked at your show and you have an exhibit for a show like CES, where you get literally thousands of people in your booth, then your goal for metrics might be impressions, competitive viability or meeting with the financial analysts instead tracking the number of leads.
Action Step: Schedule a strategy session with leaders in sales and marketing 6 months out from the event. Set up goals that you can measure and report back after the show.
2. Show Them What You’ve Got. One of the best ways to wow leaders is to work your magic right in front of them. Can you get an executive to be at your exhibit for some portion of the event?
‣ Demonstrate their Strategy. Showing how you executed on the objectives you established together will help not only boost your image but when they can hear directly from the customers it can really impact future planning.
Action Step: Make a list of executives to attend an upcoming show and invite them 3 months in advance of the event. Stay in touch to ensure they have the meeting on their schedule as the date gets closer.
3. Encourage Interaction. When you have an Executive in your exhibit, encourage them to interact with key target customers. Sometimes they are unsure of their purpose for attending and helping make introductions puts them and the attendee at ease. Attendees love the personal attention and the idea that they are important enough to warrant a conversation with a business leader. And the Executive will remember that their role was clear and appreciate that their time was put to good use.
Action Step: Plan meetings with industry leaders and key customers for your senior management to meet at the show at least 2 months in advance of the event.
4.Extend Key Connections. What is the first thing that happens after a show? Leads are distributed and then what? It can feel like crickets until the next event. Make it a point to support and encourage any of the connections the leader met at the show and facilitate continued conversations.
Action Step: Reach out to the key customers and ensure they have the opportunity for follow up conversations with senior leaders.
5.Create A Marketing Playbook. Look at how effective the Cubs (yes I have to give a shout out to the Cubbies!) were at execution in the World Series. It was incremental steps along the way that lead to the 7th game win. It takes being consistent, flexible, adaptable and focused to get your company to really stand out in a super busy place like a trade show floor. And it takes those same characteristics to stand out to leaders.
Be patient, it takes time to lay the ground work. Keep a log in your playbook of all the key successes at every event. Next, be ready to share the metrics and event scorecard with leaders who will applaud the above and beyond effort that you have demonstrated and delivered on all year.
“People forget fast”- Gerald B. Frank.
Attendees and senior leaders receive input constantly. Making a lasting impression takes focus and planning.
Action Step: Schedule a post-show meeting and provide the information leaders need to prove effectiveness at their own performance reviews. Include how their involvement at the event boosted sales rep morale, helped customers feel valued and it will lead to future sales opportunities.