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Goal Ideas For Trade Show Exhibits

May 31, 2008
Trade shows can make a significant difference to your company's success if you spend the time up front to plan for that success. Developing goals and objectives that are commonly understood and agreed upon by your internal stakeholders goes a long way toward building a framework for successful trade show exhibits.

As with any important marketing effort, you measure success by how well the activity performs against your stated goals and objectives. For example, ask how many hot leads do I need in order to justify the cost of our exhibit? What is my projected close rate needed to warrant my trade show booth budget? You get the idea.

Start by being clear when you consult with your top management, marketing and sales teams as to the reasons why your company wants to exhibit in a particular trade show. Ask the tough question - do you plan your trade show exhibits because your competition is exhibiting or is it because you want a set return on your trade show investment?

Analyze in advance what you want to achieve from your trade show participation, convey this to your exhibit team, and put it down on paper. Consider the following options for identifying appropriate goals for your trade show exhibits:

Brand Building

You may believe that the only thing that matters for your trade show success is that more people know about your company or product and that they think favorable about it. If you select that trade shows to exhibit in wisely, you can build your brand with the target audiences that matter the most.

Finding creative ways to imprint your brand on trade show attendees can run the gamut from building memorable trade show exhibits to the type of "evergreen" trade show giveaways that keeps your brand in front of them long after the show is over.

Recruiting Distributors & Channels

If your corporate strategy calls for aggressive development of distribution channels, you may find no better place to recruit the cream of the crop than at highly targeted trade shows. Not only are you in front of the audience you most want to reach, you also have the opportunity for immediate engagement, vetting and relationship-building.

You may want to consider additional ways to engage particularly promising distribution prospects in additional events around the trade show, such as: dinners at top-tier restaurants, hosted cocktail parties, golf, etc.

Educating Your Prospects

This is a particularly important goal to consider if you are introducing a new product or service that is innovative and requires adopting new thinking, skills, or behaviors for prospects to understand the full value and power of your offer.

When you need to educate your prospects before they can warm to the idea of becoming buyers, trade show exhibits can provide a perfect venue for attracting the relevant audience, engaging them in learning and also gauging what approaches work best in advancing their adoption of your innovation.

These ideas for goals are a bit off the beaten path that most of us think about for trade shows: leads and sales. Thinking clearly about what your goals are is often an interesting process. Communicating your initial thoughts with key stakeholders in your organization can be enlightening as you may find vastly different perspectives on what your company's trade show participation should deliver.

Bonus Tip: Be wary of "thinking by committee" that can lead to assigning multiple goals to your trade show exhibits. Accepting multiple goals runs the risk of a lack of focus; trying to be all things to all people frequently means no one is happy in the end.
About the Author
Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showrooms in Sacramento and Sunnyvale. Find more useful ideas for setting Goals for Trade Show Exhibits in the news section on their website.
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