Trade Shows a Mile Post, not the end of a Journey

As 2010 is coming to its end I have been reflecting on the various Trade Shows, Congresses and Events we have participated in this past year, either as visitors, attendees or exhibitors.

I found them to be very successful and enjoyed a good ROI/ROO but in line with our goal of contributing to “Congress Success”, here are a few thoughts and comments on things that could have made these meetings even better.

IN PREPARING

We had clearly defined our goals & objectives for the events;
In those cases when we exhibited, we marketed our booth/stand through social media channels and via targeted e-mail to ensure that we reached both existing and new customers;
At times we were attending, checked the profiles of exhibitors to identify our target list of people to meet;
Whether exhibiting or attending, made pre-scheduled appointments when available;
Reviewed and identified interesting seminars to sign up for;
Scheduled time for internal meeting just before the event;
Arranged customer or partner appreciation event on “free” evening.

MY THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING “PRE-EVENT” PORTION

  • Use a Business Match-making tool to make it easier to find the right contacts to connect with.
  • Provide easier way to manage communications between buyers & sellers before event.
    (Reason for mentioning this is at one of the past events the sellers where allowed to send using their own company e-mail address which made it impossible to create a Filter with Auto-reply once our appointment list was full and we received upwards of 1,000 e-mails from sales people sending out blasts and at another event the e-mails that went out were from a “No Reply” e-mail which made responding very tedious and in those instances when sender had not included an e-mail and/or name almost impossible).


AT THE EVENT

We made sure to confirm additional appointments to complete our schedule;
“Walked the floor” when possible to check out competitors, new products and services;
Met with industry association and media contacts;
Searched for inspiration by looking for and visiting unique and creative stands/booths.

MY THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING “AT THE EVENT” PORTION

  • Be mindful of both the exhibitors and the attendees when setting the agenda to avoid having exhibitors being “left alone” at the trade show and to avoid the challenge of having a large number of people depart early.
  • Whenever possible, schedule seminars on times outside of exhibits and pre-scheduled appointments to allow for both buyers and sellers to attend seminars together as these provide great networking opportunity and allows for better collaboration.
    (Mentioning this as at one event we were so busy at our stand it was impossible to attend some of the seminars/educational sessions that were offered and that we had interest in attending and  at a couple of other events where we were attendees, we did not get opportunity to meet with the  Exhibitors as we had pre-scheduled appointments and seminars that filled our time.)
  • Use Audience Response tool during seminar/educational sessions to gauge consensus, understanding, and solicit questions and feedback. (This is extremely important to allow for as many people as possible to interact and contribute to the conversation.)
  • Schedule a short break following seminars to allow for participants to network, reflect and continue dialogue regarding what was just discussed and/or presented.
  • Send out brief Survey during this break and ask for quick comment/feedback.


AFTER THE EVENT

We conducted a debrief among the members of our team that participated at the event;  Followed up with people met via e-mail and phone calls to say thank you and to move dialogue and relationship along;
Reviewed and divided the contacts met, according to who on our team would be best suited to manage the ongoing business relationship;

MY THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING “POST-EVENT” PORTION

  • Provide forum where comments and results from surveys remain posted online for attendees to access.
  • Make online copies of all Seminars/Educational sessions available for attendees to access.
  • Provide a forum where continuous dialogue can occur regarding the specific topic covered in each Seminar.

As always, I am very interested in hearing what your thoughts and comments might be and look forward to exchanging ideas and hopefully meeting up and working together in the near future!

With best wishes for everyones continued growth and success – HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011!!!

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