By: Sylvie The dog days of summer signal the arrival of tradeshow and conference season for companies across industries. Recently, I attended BostonFest, hosted by BostInno, to mix and mingle with other local professionals to celebrate our fair city. While I enjoyed the live music, ocean breeze and summer sangria, what stood out to me most from this outdoor festival were the lessons that would help any company make the most of its own tradeshow and conference attendances and exhibitions. Here are five things companies should keep in mind before their next tradeshows.
Your booth is not a T-shirt stand. “Hey, want a shirt? Small, medium, large, extra large” were the only words directed to me and other attendees when we walked up to one booth stacked high with shirts with the company logo emblazoned on them. I love free swag as much as the next person, but this doesn’t seem like the most strategic use of an exhibitorship. Yes, tchotchkes draw people to your booth, but once they’re there, how will you keep them engaged and interested in your company? How can you turn that swag-grabber into a lead? For starters, you need to start a conversation beyond what size shirts you have to offer.
Use attendees to boost your social media visibility. Several smart companies at BostonFest elevated their games, and instead of the standard enter-your-business-card-for-a-chance-to-win raffles, they employed the tweet-a-selfie-with-our-booth-and-logo-using-our-handle-and-event-hashtag-for-a-prize strategy. This is smart because it not only can drive booth traffic for people who see the post on social media while following the event hashtag, but it also has the opportunity to spread your company name to a wide audience of people not even in attendance who see these selfies flood their feeds.
Make it possible for all attendees to give you their information. Collecting business cards is still common practice at events and tradeshows, regardless of industry or audience. However, some companies want their booths to stand out and in doing so, made their lead generation process too complicated – or worse, impossible. One company at BostonFest lost the non-Apple demographic, even though they were planning to expand beyond the Apple App Store soon. Because they required people to download their app, which was only available for iPhones, and register or log in before playing their chance game and entering their raffle, they missed their opportunity to collect my and many other non-iPhone users’ information.
Know your company. This should go without saying, but it bears repeating: the person stationed at the booth should be able to give the company elevator pitch and answer at least basic questions about what the company does, where it is based, how long it’s been around and where to either purchase the product or service or get more information about it. There were a few times at BostonFest where my questions received an “I actually don’t know that…” as an answer.
Follow up. The conference may be over, but the job isn’t. Don’t let all those business cards just collect dust after an event. Add these people to your lists to get your company newsletter. Send personalized messages to those with whom you spoke directly. Give a special promotion to thank people for willingly giving you their information. Even if they didn’t win your grand prize GoPro or AppleWatch, a consolation prize goes a long way in nurturing a lead.