Woody Got it Wrong: Succeeding at Industry Trade Shows and Events by @EwingMillercom

by Susan Ewing Miller

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 2.21.27 PMWoody Allen famously stated that eighty percent of success in life is simply showing up. Pity those entrepreneurs that apply this Woody-ism to their trade show strategy.

Attending industry shows and events is a pivotal part of building relationships and cultivating customers. However, if your participation is limited to purchasing an exhibit booth or attending a function, you’ll marginalize your investment.

A profitable trade show experience is about more than a decked out exhibit space, expensive promotional items or gorgeous “booth babes”. Over the past decade, I’ve seen start-up’s sponsoring 8×8 trade show tables outshine exhibitors with synchronized dancers, pulsating colored fountains and beer gardens!

What transforms a trade show from three eight-hour days in a convention center into a profitable, customer yielding marketing tool? The following tips have helped several Ewing Miller Communications http://www.ewingmiller.com/clients maximize their trade show investment.

• Conduct on the floor market research. There is no better venue for learning timely insights from your target customer. Hire a few interns to conduct “floor intercept surveys” on the trade show floor. Increase your response rate by entering respondents into a giveaway drawing. This strategy yielded insights that helped a CCTV manufacturer move from start-up to number one in market share in less than two years.

• Work the media room. Contact the trade show in advance and ask for a list of registered media. Call these outlets in advance and schedule one-on-one chats with them during the show. This tactic helped a software manufacturer generate coverage on DIY-TV and in numerous builder publications, despite being located in a corner of the million-square-foot National Home Builders Association Show.

• Host a competition. Everyone loves a spectacle, so plan an event that will draw spectators. A technician certification company hosted a “Top Tech” competition inviting technicians to diagnose and solve heating and cooling problems on simulators with the technician who solved the problem in the least amount of time taking home the title of Top Tech.

• Treat Key Influencers to a Survival Kit. Trade shows are tough, even for attendees. Secure a list of registered attendees and select VIPs to receive a “trade show survival pack.” Simply fill a customized six-pack cooler with goodies that will make the show more enjoyable. A bottle of water, candy bar, aspirin, antacids, and your press kit on a thumb drive are great goodies to include. Send them a note in advance, inviting them to pick up their survival guide.

• Leverage the Local Media: Do you have an expert or celebrity that will intrigue local media? A cosmetology association provided local media with a celebrity hairstylist to discuss how the right hairstyle can help job candidates of various ages look their best for interviews. http://www.ewingmiller.com/portfolio/ted-gibson/

Replace simply “showing up” with these buzz building ideas and your trade show results will most certainly begin trending upward.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Beyerstein via Compfight cc


susan-millerSusan Ewing Miller is founder of Ewing Miller Communications, an Indianapolis-based media relations firm committed to connecting clients and their customers through strategic, solution-centered messages. In evaluating the best connection strategy, Ewing Miller Communications looks beyond the realms of traditional and social media to foster powerful and personal connections between clients and their customers.

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