Outdoor Trade Show Tips
Several years ago, I was asked by a hunting lodge how to be successful at a trade show. I really had no idea since I was young, green in the industry and clueless on trade show success. That is until I ran into a gentleman at a Denver trade show that gave me his keys to success, trackablity, and how to determine ROI.
The simple fact is, what are the numbers of your last trade show? If you don't know, then this article will help you come up with a trackable process for trade shows, so you can start to do the numbers and determine ROI of each show.
What trade shows are you going to go to? What success rate do you have? This is different for every business, since over time you will find some trade shows produce a higher percentage of bookings than others.
The best trade shows. Every trade show is different and the prospects are different. Over time, visiting more and different trade shows will give you more data, so can get more of a median with your numbers and ultimately figure out your ROI.
Unrelated industry trade shows. Think about maybe going to different trade shows and even unrelated industries where your competition is a minimum. Example: if you are a pheasant hunting operation, try going to a energy trade show or some other type of related industry. You may find success.
At the Show
Have a notebook on your table. This is a request media packet or request more information form. Make sure you write down one or two names first so potential customers don't think they are the first one. Make sure you have full name, address, email and a phone number. They will fill it out if interested. Make a note if you pitched that person or not and write some things about them, their job, company or any traits so you can connect later after the show when you make a follow up phone call. 2 months later is recommended.
Hide your brochures/postcards. 90-95% of people throw stuff away. If you have your brochures and postcards for everyone to grab, make sure to set them back a little bit to make sure the "brochure grabbers" stay away. If someone is truly interested, they will ask. Make sure you give them your business card as well.
Photos. Keep your photos to a minimum. They will appreciate the fact that you don't waste a lot of time. You show them some hunting photos, the lodging and give them a postcard with your information and your website so they can look at more after the show. KISS method is best.
Selected audience. Qualified leads is the game. Are you there to sell your service or talk? Stay on task and make sure you are talking with the right people. It sounds harsh, but at the end of the day you are selecting potential customers and prospecting.
Be personable. Listen to them, have fun and be real. They will appreciate this since you as the owner or your employees are part of the product.
Notes about key prospects. If you had a good conversation with a potential prospect and they wrote their name down, make sure you have a note sheet under your table to take notes about them: what they were wearing (so you remember), kids, where they work, likes, what they are looking for in a hunt, etc. This will help you book the hunt in the end.
Hide the map. If you put a map out, random people will come by and point out all the relatives they have in the tri-state area. We all hate to be rude but sometimes we have to limit the amount of chitter-chatter since that conversation could miss you a large sale of a corporate group of 20 that come for years to come.
If a person is interested. Don't be hesitant to ask for a down payment if someone is very interested. It never hurts to ask if someone would be interested to "secure their spot" or to "make a commitment". Ask for the sale!
After the Show
ROI & Figuring out the numbers. Talley up the total contacts you made at the show. The contacts and numbers will prove successful in due time and you will be able to run numbers on how successful the show was. Ex. If you got 50 names at a show, then you will be able to track who books and what your profit margin was at each show. This is key.
Initial Phone Call. Make a follow up phone call 2 months later and make sure to reference the notes you wrote down about them (kids, job, hunting preference, anything so they know you remember them). Mark down who you talked to.
Media Kit. After you get off the phone with them and they are still interested, send them a media kit to their physical address with a letter signed personally by your lodge manager or owner. Check off your list that you sent them a kit.
Follow Up Phone Call. Give your potential customers some time to go over the media kit. Call them a few weeks later and ask them if they had a chance to view over the info and ask them if they would be interested in booking a hunt. Mark down who is interested in booking.
Do the Numbers. With all the data you have (which doesn't take much time), you will be able to figure out which trade shows are successful over time.
If you follow these steps you will find it's less draining mentally and more profitable as a business if you take these steps. Otherwise you are throwing darts at a board.