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Upping the Impact of Trade Shows

Posted by: Brian Duke

Trade shows are what many in the professional services industry refer to as “challenging to be differentiated” among the sea of other vendors, and in particular your competitors. Yes, it is true that the trade show floor is crowded, and it can be hard to distinguish decision-makers from non-decision makers or even other vendors – they never print those titles and company names in large enough print on the badges. But, an eye-catching display and, most importantly, engaging and message-educated staff manning the booth make all of the difference in making a trade show a success.

Yet, even the most attention-grabbing booth displays can be poor performing if they do not have cohesive creativity and clear goals. And, on the other side, some of the best performing have been quite simple using inexpensive means and methods but the clear message and goal is delivered well by personable and engaging staff. It is all about pre-planning for the visual aspects and the training of the booth personnel. It takes time well in advance of the show, but it will have a definite positive impact on your return on your investment.

The trade shows are expensive in terms of the registration fees, booth set-up/breakdown fees, visual displays, hotels, food, and lastly (and often one of the higher, unseen costs) lost billable hours by booth staff. Creating those clear objectives, channeling your creativity, recognizing your budget and educating staff will differentiate your firm! Set aside the time necessary to gather the thought-leaders together and brain-storm. Do not start with worrying about the budget. Think about the message and means to communicate that message. Once ideas start flowing then they can be honed with your budget in mind. If you focus too much on the budget early in the discussion it can be very limiting and squelch new options. (Yes, budget is a reality that everyone who markets in professional services has to deal with but don’t let it cloud an open idea exchange.)

Set aside the time to plan. Educate all participants about the clear goals and message. Get everyone excited about the OPPORTUNITY to be at the trade show. There are real decision makers in the crowd who are looking to hire you. Search them out and reel them in!

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