According to CEIR 1(Center for Exhibition Industry Research), 40% of the marketing budget goes into B2B exhibiting, and with a median participation in 6x B2B exhibitions per year. Which raises the question: What strategies can I implement to run my trade show program effectively?
Before jumping into the tips, let’s get a bit of context.
Firstly, what we call a trade show program or campaign, here used interchangeably, is: exhibiting at more than one trade show per year. The more shows an exhibitor participates in, the more critical the tips will be.
Secondly, let’s fight the tendency to over-focus on the stand. It is not only about the booth design! In the B2B world, while it is people that make decisions, they do not decide for themselves but instead make decisions on behalf of their organization, creating a level of complexity that requires a dedicated and long-term approach.
Finally, a typical trajectory will necessarily lead to a program approach as, after a long period of thinking and doing one exhibition at a time, an exhibitor will develop, through time and experience, mechanisms to optimize the overall process. When in parallel, the business is growing, contracts are secured, and market penetration is promising, a higher pressure will lead the exhibitor to think in terms of a program.
Therefore, deliberately designing a long-term and multi-location tradeshow program or campaign is critical to set the marketing teams in the best conditions to implement the strategy with confidence.
Here are the nine tips we selected that will help exhibitors run an effective trade show campaign.
In the context of B2B exhibitions, consistency doesn’t mean rigidity. It means a deliberate design of a campaign in alignment with the brand identity.
Many factors are going to pressure your brand consistency when you design and plan your tradeshow program.
We have selected the most significant ones, considering them in the right order; first, the brand or corporate strategy; then, the factors in the list below, is crucial for delivering a sound experience for your audience. No exhibitor wants its presence to sound “off-brand.”
In Japan, colors have a different meanings than in Europe 2. Seating standards are different in the Middle East as compared to the US. Considering where the show is taking place is vital in ensuring the message is distributed and received as expected.
An exhibitor may have several target industries, and it needs an adaptative approach under the umbrella of the brand strategy. If showcasing a product line for Defence and one for Civil Aerospace, the marketing may want to adopt a dedicated approach that still aligns with the corporate strategy.
Whether the objective requires focus on meetings, products, end-users, media, high profiles, or just a courtesy of being present, the approach needs to align with it.
The trade show program approach will necessarily come with a drastic increase in workload, obliging the marketing team to navigate with maximum effectiveness.
Here are selected strategies that will increase the marketing team’s effectiveness.
Designing a career path for B2B exhibitions is a great asset that can give agility in future situations. it helps establish the culture, abilities and skills required for coordinating and managing events and, it provides options like moving to full-time a team member that is currently between B2B exhibitions and other marketing channels.
From working on a single-time basis with a trusted vendor, companies may consider, as an example, establishing a multiple shows package, and inviting them to give their best conditions.
Phones, Word, and Excel are perfectly fine. Making sure the other side has fully understood, is critical. Teams now can leverage screen casting, audio messaging, and many more to provide feedback to their vendor, especially when working on a different time zone, giving them time to process and deliver a sound response.
Trade show program means, most of the time, going to different countries, and eventually continents. How exhibitors would remove the knowns from the equation, will determine how much of the unknowns can be managed, to increase the available cognitive capacity they will need to engage with all the buzz around the show overseas, jetlag, cultural differences, and social events around the show, only to name a few.
The exhibitor now knows exactly where the marketing is heading to in the next 12 to 24 months. Massive energy and time spared down the road, from endless meetings to hours of planning, multiplied by all the people involved. A new space is open for organizations and their teams to be more proactive and more intentional about their exhibition campaign.
The campaign costs are known in advance, that’s great. There are also hidden advantages, from a strong leverage position to negotiate with vendors to a fluidity gained in manoeuvering through the unexpected events that may occur on a global scale.
No need to hurry or panic in finding who will coordinate the show details, whether allocating internal resources, hiring a new event manager or choose a partner to take a part of, or manage the complete campaign.
Here we wanted to share a piece of our experience with our audience in the B2B space having tradeshow programs, as we learned these to be successful for international exhibitors.
You may know someone that could benefit from one of these tips, share this post with them.