When investing in trade show exhibiting and sponsoring, there are three valuable elements that must be part of the initiative:
1. Obtaining an attendee contact list. With this you have the ability to conduct pre-show marketing to get pre-arranged meetings and drive booth traffic. Without an attendee contact list you have a significantly reduced chance of recouping your investment.
2. Securing an opportunity to present. A presentation slot give you an opportunity to tell great stories to a large audience about how your product capabilities match the key challenges your audience (attendees) are facing. No presentation slot means you have to do this 1 on 1 in a crowded, noisy booth which requires significant pre-show planning.
3. Acquiring a great both location. Sign up early and pay the premium for a great spot. Work with the event producer and make sure you’re clear on which locations get the maximum traffic. Do not cut cost and settle for secondary, or tertiary location. You’ll immediately regret it.
BONUS: Items not to care about and trade away for any of the three elements above:
a. Lanyards, bags, badges and other garbage attendees will throw away before they even get on the plane to go home.
b. Ads in show programs. One of two things will happen: 1) You’ll feel compelled to produce and new ad specifically for the event, or 2) you’ll recycle an old ad to save time and money. The first is a waste of time because no one reads or cares about ads in programs. The second is worse, because if someone happens to read it and/or care about it, the ad will likely be irrelevant or mis-targeted.
c. Electronic lead capture devices. They never work right and rarely provide the opportunity to include notations regarding what the conversation was about, why the person spoke with you, etc. Get a business card from everyone you speak with and have a pen ready to make notes on the back. No business cards? Assuming I believe this (which I don’t), keep a small notepad in your pocket and make a note.