Trade Shows, Part 3: Maximize the Impact

April 2002 Marketing

In the second article of this series, we explored a model to show the value of trade shows. While our model demonstrated the possible value, it did not fully explore the means to maximize exhibit floor value. Maximizing the value of a specific marketing event requires integrating the event with our other marketing tools. In this third and final article, I will explore how the trade show can be integrated into a full marketing effort to maximize its value.

Our value model for trade shows indicates that most of the value of hosting a booth derives from having multiple in-depth interactions with individuals in our market. Hence, a direct means to maximize the value of our events is to maximize the number of contacts fostered at the event. A simple means to maximize the customer interactions at the trade show is to send out pre-show post-cards inviting customers to visit your booth. Event hosting firms will often allow firms to purchase a list of conference attendees that have pre-registered. Alternatively, the mailing list used for your other direct mail campaigns can also be used for your pre-show invites. Along with mailing initiations, the direct sales force can prearrange meetings with prospects and clients to discuss their concerns at this convenient meeting. If both parties are there, they might as well say hello.

After the show is over, follow up contacts can generate qualified leads. Passively, marketing can send post-show post-cards thanking attendees for visiting your booth and expressing regret that conversations were short. Aggressively, the telesales arm of marketing can take the list of attendees and conduct follow-up calls to qualify leads. Because the list of attendees may only include 30% of your relevant audience, often the second step of placing phone calls is conducted only with booth visitors to follow up on their interest. At a minimum however, post-show thank you notes should be sent as they will reinforce your message directed to the conference attendees.

A third method to maximize the value of a trade show requires integrating the event calendar with the web site. This makes more sense for markets where the dollar value of the product or service is low and the volume of items sold must be high to generate the required revenues of the firm. In this case, a micro-site or web-discount is created and the conference attendees are invited to take part in this special message or special offer. An example of this technique is to give a website address and authorization code at the show and through your post-show thank you notes. When a prospect visits the website and types in the authorization code, either a special message is given to this audience or a purchase discount is offered. Either method, you are using the trade show event to drive your marketing message and revenue generation.

Hosting a booth at a trade show is an expensive marketing proposition. If the value of the booth is related to the number and depth of firm-customer interactions, integrated marketing both reinforces the booth message and increases the booth traffic to maximize the value.

The May Report, TECH BUSINESS BRIEFS, April 23, 2002

About the author

Tim J. Smith, PhD is the Managing Principal of Wiglaf Pricing, and an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University of Marketing and Economics. His most recent book is Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures.

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