Trade Show Maven Candy Adams Reveals the Secrets Behind Success
Did you know that conferences and tradeshows were responsible for the greatest number of meetings around the globe in 2018, and that these events represented 23% of all meeting activity in North America alone? Yes, marketers are either transforming with digital or at risk of being replaced by it, but it is also true that many old school marketing tactics still get the job done. In fact, meetings and events continue to bring unique value to businesses: they offer an excellent way to generate leads and deliver meaningful, face-to-face interactions with existing partners and customers.
Candy Adams is a trade show maven in a class by herself. She has spent the last 20+ years guiding companies to maximize their presence, effectiveness and dollars spent on the show floor. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Candy and learn from her vast experience working with some of the most well-known tech companies across over 450 different shows. What I love is that Candy’s expertise and advice is applicable to companies and partners of every size and type that want to optimize trade show impact and investments.
Below are Candy’s 8 practical tips to for driving trade show ROI:
- Design Booths that Function – Good booth design starts by addressing functionality. Pre-determine how you want attendees to flow through your space and how/where you’ll provide hands-on demos and interactive presentations. Use light, color and movement to help attract attendees and make your booth intuitive to navigate (do not clutter!). A good rule of thumb is to block no more than 20 percent of the aisle with counters, stands or staff.
- High-Impact Booth Graphics – It takes the average person 3.5 seconds to walk by a 10’x10’ booth, so your graphics really need stand-out like a billboard along the freeway and communicate one big message with imagery and very few words. The goal is to attract and engage attendees with your signage. Avoid lots of marketing copy and small print, and make sure any key messaging is placed above shoulder level so it is easily read (and not blocked) from the show floor.
- Target Any Giveaways – Give good items to the people who matter — like your most-wanted prospects, most-loyal customers and your most customer-centric partners. Consider having special giveaways for these target individuals such as $25 Starbucks cards with pre-printed “thank you for stopping by” envelopes so recipients are reminded of you each time they use the card. Gifting event passes and pre-paid gas cards to key customers and prospects within a 2-hour drive radius of regional events has also proven effective in securing attendance and participation. Make your giveaways more targeted and meaningful and give people something they really need or want.
- Booth Plan/Training – Booth staff at all levels (from rookies to experts) need to be on the same page when working a trade show. Create a high-level booth plan for every event that communicates logistics, roles and messaging scripts, and be sure this plan is presented to staff in preparation for the show. Have your script ready so everyone knows how to respond to anticipated questions and scenarios (ice breakers, elevator pitch, what’s new in the service, how to close the loop, etc.). Don’t put your booth staff in a position where they have to wing it.
- Capture the Right Information to Qualify Leads – Business cards in a fish bowl do not translate to leads. Pre-determine what info you’d like for follow-up (contact info, product interest, current supplier, reason for changing vendors, role in the purchasing process, timeframe to buy and requested follow-up) and standardize how to best capture this information at the show. When engaged, ask visitors if there is someone else to add to future communications to loop in other decision makers. And always ask if and when they’d like you to follow up (and be sure to follow through!).
- Close the Fence Sitters – Invite both your happiest customers and most promising fence sitters to a company-sponsored outing that coincides with a larger event. Make it an activity (like dinner or a concert) that is fun enough to entice someone to give up their evening. These fun outings are an opportunity to show appreciation to your loyalists, enabling you to create a setting to interact with “fence-sitters” in a natural way and evangelize your product and customer experience.
- Follow-through within 1-2 weeks – Prepare your post-show follow-up process before you leave for the show. Be sure to contact people by the agreed-upon method and, if specified in advance, at a specific day and time. Your post-show follow-up is representative of how you do business. Be sure to demonstrate that you are dependable, pay attention to detail and want to be of service.
- Don’t De-Dup Booth Attendee Lists – It is fairly common practice for folks to immediately de-dup lists, assuming that duplicate names are there in error. Don’t de-dup! Make duplicates a top priority for personalized follow-up as it may indicate that a person has made multiple trips to your booth: they could in fact be a highly qualified lead.
Tradeshows and conferences remain a great way to connect, share thought leadership and build relationships that are critical to business growth. Following a few simple rules can help exhibitors get the most bang for their buck.
We’ve put these tips to work at two shows this May: TSIA’s Technology & Services World (TSW19) in San Diego, and Channel Focus in Carlsbad. While at TSW, I had the opportunity to moderate a jam-packed panel session, “The Era of Partner Success.” Together with an esteemed group of panelists from Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft and TSIA, we had an excellent and engaging discussion on a topic that is fast-becoming a competitive game changer for vendors in the technology industry.
Next on our event schedule is Pulse 2019 in San Francisco. Hit me up if you’re interested in meeting old school to talk about how Channel Impact Certified Event Planners can help make your events a huge success.
VP, Client Success