Let Your Goals Be Your Guide

Let your goals be your guide

When I ask exhibitors about their goals for a particular show, the most common answer is either brand awareness/visibility or generating leads.

While these are valid reasons for exhibiting, they’re what I call “squishy goals.” That’s because there’s nothing definitive or measurable about them. So how can you prove you were successful if you don’t have a way to measure your results – especially if someone in your company (sales manager, VP of Marketing, or whoever) must be convinced that trade shows are worth the investment?

But that’s a topic for another episode or blog post.

Today I want to help you use your goal as a North Star to guide all your trade show decisions: what your exhibit should look like (what it should or shouldn’t include), how to promote it, what to give away, and even how to craft your follow-up strategy.

For example … if your goal is to build brand awareness, you’ll want to make as big of a splash at the show as possible. That could include big and bold graphics (maybe even an LED wall or hanging banner), and perhaps a high-visibility sponsorship in addition to your booth. Incorporate a clever theme and layer in a bit of gamification to draw people to your booth. Give away fun prizes that reinforce your brand and that attendees will want to keep and use. (Which provides added visibility after the show!)

But if your goal is to have quality one-on-one conversations with a few key high-level prospects, you’ll want to create a space for those within your exhibit. Instead of promoting to the masses, zero in on your specific target audience with personalized VIP invitations. Craft an upscale booth experience that inspires feelings of exclusivity and trust, then present them with a thoughtful executive-level gift (instead of some run-of-the-mill tchotchke).

And when it comes to a follow-up strategy, that also needs to align with both your goals and the experience in your booth.

If you featured a fun, high-energy vibe and collected lots of leads, be sure to have some kind of ranking system so you know which ones need more in-depth follow-up within a short time frame. Import everyone into your CRM and begin a drip campaign to nurture those leads.

But if your goal was to only generate leads from an elite group of highly-targeted prospects, make sure your follow-up reflects that level of exclusivity. Don’t waste any time before taking that conversation to the next level.

No matter how you choose to follow up, make sure it reminds attendees of their positive experience in your booth and reinforces why they want to work with you!

When you place your goal at the center of your exhibit marketing strategy and know what you want to accomplish, it helps everything else come into focus.

If you’d like help coming up with specific ideas for your next trade show, reach out to me. We can set up a brainstorming session to discover the best ways to accomplish your goals.

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© 2023 Marlys K. Arnold

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