Here are some insights on how to rock your next trade show or conference.  These are my observations from The International Traders Expo in New York, which I just attended.  This event organized by the MoneyShow brings together thousands of traders with a focus on learning trading strategies and sharing ideas.  With a few key steps, you can maximize your impact at your next event.

Marketing Tips For Making The Most of Trade Shows – my thoughts on what works well and what doesn’t.

  • keep it simpleTell them what you do.  You only have 3 seconds to make a first impression, so your booth, banner and sales materials should tell people what you do in 5 words or less. People will read or look at the following in order: 1) your company name and logo; 2) your top-line message; 3) your product or graphics.  If you haven’t conveyed through those 3 channels what your company does, then you are going to miss opportunities and have to work twice as hard to convince people to stop and have a conversation with you. Hedgeye did a nice job with their product sheets which listed all their services with bold clear headings and the cost (just $1 a day), but these didn’t say “Sign up here now”, which suggests the corollary ..
  • Tell them what you want them to do.  This is also known as the ever-important CALL TO ACTION which reminds potentials customers what steps are needed to sign up for your service or buy your product.  To close more sales, be as clear as possible about what you are giving and what they are getting in return.  A simple clear value proposition and desired action can make all the difference.  If you want to get jiggy with it, you can think of this as your “growth hack” – here’s a little inspiration from the Spice Girls (Tell me what you want, what you really really want).
  • Show your best side.  At a minimum your booth should be fully staffed with sales experts who can give product demonstrations.  Oh yeah, ideally you will be showing your product so people (particularly traders) know what you’re selling. In lieu of a product demo, have your booth and banner promote your value proposition.  Salespeople should be welcoming, engaging and responsive to everyone, since you don’t know where your next big opportunity could come from, it’s critical to maximize every customer encounter.  Encourage your sales team to engage any and all prospective customers in conversation to find out what they’re looking for.  You should also consider the right sponsorship mix – is it an exhibit booth, an exclusive speaking slot or panel, advertising, distributing product sheets or simply attending and working the room?   Each has its own value and benefits, but speaking can help differentiate your company as thought leaders with unique insights in a way that simply demonstrating your product may not.  If you’re looking to build relationships and save money, let your strong sales networkers work the room and follow-up with prospects afterwards.
  • Give away something of value at your booth.  With so many vendors exhibiting, how do you differentiate your company and product?  Everyone is looking for something – whether that’s information, new insight or a give-away.  The best companies provide all these things to prospective clients – an opportunity to learn and something meaningful. One of the more impressive offerings was a 30-day free trial from Investools only if you signed up during the trade show.  I thought this was a great way to encourage prospective customers to try their product, but they may have attracted more interest with a big sign promoting this – I only found out when I began talking with someone at the booth.   Other vendors gave discounts on newsletters or a free shirt with a subscription.  It never hurts to give someone an added incentive to try or buy your product, then it’s up to you to keep them coming back for more. Oh yeah, and people love chocolate (particularly after walking the floor and avoiding the $5 coffee bar) – never underestimate the lure of food.
  • Less is more when it comes to messaging.  When you have 10 or more vendors offering similar services (charting and trading tools), you need to find a way to distinguish yourself. So many of the vendors had complicated, wordy brochures without a clear statement of their value proposition. To the extent that you can find a unique angle that can succinctly state your brand promise (“Sentiment tracking”, “Trading strategies that lock in profits”), you will find it easier to cut through the clutter and capture the attention of prospective customers.

There you have it, my quick summary of take-aways.  If you are interested in learning more about ways to enhance your overall marketing and event presence, please contact us.  We would be happy to offer a quick assessment of your current approach and recommend ways to promote your business more effectively – check out our marketing services here.