Tradeshow Tips - Improve your marketing

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Every trade show comes with lessons for the exhibitor on how to successfully market your products to retailers. Sometimes the lessons are new and sometimes they are reminders of lessons learned in the past. Here are four of the lessons that Graham and I have learned or re-learned at our past few trade shows.

Lesson 1: Effort spent preparing information for customers before the show pays off at the show

Customer questions are as varied as the customers. Some will want to know how much it costs, others how many they have to buy, and some will want to know how it will be packaged when they receive it. With several people working the stand, it's important that consistent answers to these questions are provided to customers. To make sure that we provided the right information to our customers we designed an item information sheet that answers all of these questions. As our product range grew we bundled them into catalogues. It takes just moments to email them to our customers and we are now confident that we are providing correct and consistent information.

Lesson 2: Prepare marketing material that is re-usable across your marketing channels

We create a product brochure for our retailers to use in store and online. Aimed at the retailer's customer, this brochure outlines the benefits and features of our product. We re-use this information on our website, in newsletters and in press releases. When designing our promotional posters, we save the source files for reuse in later product promotions. We make sure that we have high res and low res images for print and web use. Even though we might not be ready to put the product onto our website, we prepare the xlge, lge, med and sml images while we're creating the trade show marketing material. That means we only have to touch the image files once instead of several times.

Lesson 3: Think about how your customers are likely to use the information you send them

Emailing our customers a catalogue is a great option for us as they receive the information quickly and we're not spending a fortune on printing. We realised that our customers don't want to spend a fortune on printing either, which means that they may only print out page 5 of our catalogue. We used to have our contact details on the front page of the catalogue but now they are on every page. That way, our customer is able to reach us to place an order without having to remember where they stored our catalogue.

Lesson 4: Things won't always go as planned so be prepared to adjust your plans quickly

Capturing leads is important at the trade show. Some trade show attendees are reluctant to share their contact details with exhibitors but will happily take a brochure or business card. We use this reluctance to qualify our leads, on the basis that people who are genuinely interested in retailing our products will be willing to provide us their contact details in return for item information. We've set up a system where we email the person as we're speaking to them and it works really well. At our latest trade show we've had problems with our internet access ranging from forgetting to bring our mobile wifi modem with us to poor connectivity. Instead of getting frustrated, we set up a simple spreadsheet to capture email addresses, names and details of the item information people wanted us to send them. While it has meant that we've had to spend extra time sending out emails in the evening, we've found that we've captured notes about our leads that have helped us to personalise the emails.

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Author: Kathy Creaner

Kathy loves to talk about gardening, program and project management, doing business in China, social media marketing and customer service.

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