Trade show season is upon the pet industry, kicking off this week with the North American Veterinary Conference and moving directly into several major and regional shows. As savvy marketers book their booths and plan their travel, we asked Mike Thimmich, Director of Customer Engagement for Skyline Exhibits, to give us some insight on how we can make the most of the time, energy and money we invest in trade shows.
I-5: Mike, what major trends or shifts are you seeing in trade show marketing for 2014?
MT: Without the threat of a government shutdown, there will be less uncertainty, so exhibitors will not continue to wait until the very last minute to commit to a show or a new exhibit. We are also seeing greater use of technology in the show. Exhibitors continuing to wonder about the future of trade shows, even though many major shows continue to rack up record shows, in terms of number of exhibitors and attendees.
I-5: How is technology changing the interaction between exhibitors and attendees?
MT: If done right, technology (such as an iPad or a larger touchscreen) allows a booth staffer to provide very engaging and relevant information to each attendee. Done wrong, and technology just gives booth staffers a new way to ignore attendees, leaving attendees to get information on their own.
I-5: For new exhibitors (and as a refresher for more experienced ones), what are the most 3 important things they should do to make a trade show a success?
MT: 1) Pick the right shows to exhibit at; 2) bring booth staffers who want to be there, and 3) follow up on their leads.
I-5: What common mistakes do you see exhibitors continue to make?
MT: The reverse of the previous question – going to the wrong shows, bringing booth staffers who do not want to be there, and ignoring lead follow up. Plus, trying to put too many products, images, text, and messages into their booth, not using promotions to get people out of the aisle and into their booth, not giving enough training to their booth staffers, and not measuring their trade show results.
I-5: What are some low-cost things that a marketer can do to rev up the impact of their exhibit?
MT: Make their booth more like a billboard than a bulletin board. Have a contest with booth staffers for the highest number of qualified leads. Have booth staffers qualify leads at the show as A, B, and C quality, and only send the A and B leads to the sales force.
I-5: Mike, thank you so much for your insight and tips. Can you recommend some additional resources for new or first-time exhibitors looking to educate themselves further?
MT: Absolutely. Here are a few articles to start with: