The Most Important Hours of a Trade Show

Strategically designed social events, once a tradeshow afterthought, are rapidly emerging as the more important and productive complement to trade floor selling. Trade show success does not happen only on the show floor. Today’s forward-thinking companies are discovering imaginative ways to spend quality time with valued customers and prospects — away from the show floor sales environment.

Getting exhausted customers and prospects to your post-show event is half the battle. The secret is how and when they are invited and, of course, what you are inviting them to. If you want your event to stand out, create a have-to-be-there happening with an over-the-top invitation. A great party begins with the perfect location. Use a venue that either sells itself or is so unusual that the customer’s would not miss the chance to be there. When developing a theme for an event or party, integrate a message that relates to your core sales effort. At afterhours parties, your clients are there to be social, not to be sold. Offer entertainment that is unusual and fitting to your theme and audience. Do not over-invite. These parties are for special clients and would be prospective customers. The bigger the party becomes – the less likely invitees will actually meet the staff in this informal atmosphere. And the less likely they will feel special.

At the Trade Show … Time is Money

People’s schedules are set down to the minute. Your prized customers and prospects will likely be invited to several parties. Make certain you provide them with a good deal of notice. Mail the invitation on time – at least 6-8 weeks before the show. Use phone follow-up to remind people to RSVP. Party favors are great ways to help guests remember their positive experience. They also can be used as calculated tools to support or complete your sales message. A gift not only functions to remind your guests of the good time they had, but also to keep your sales message in their minds long after the party.

The triumph of a fabulous party can be measured beyond attendance. Promoting the event’s success after the party is important to drawing next year’s crowd. Have a photographer on hand and add the pictures to your website and as an attachment for your next email. Invite industry journalists. Word-of-mouth reporting is just as valuable. That kind of success only comes from thinking outside the booth.

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