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Management & Reporting: Five Steps To A Great Trade Show

Trade shows can be a large investment, so make the most of your marketing dollars. Here are five tips to maximize your investment.

1. Build a checklist, and stick to it. Your checklist should include everything from the shipping information down to the materials ordered for your booth. The best bet is to appoint one person whose chief responsibility is to make sure everything is carried out to the last detail. Good communication between the trade show coordinator and the sales staff is key!

2. Promote your company. Prior to the show, send out promotional literature to your clients as well as prospects. Be sure to indicate your booth assignment. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, about 25 percent of trade show visitors are searching out a specific company. Investigate any on-site advertising opportunities that might be offered such as having your literature displayed at or near the hall entrance.

3. Arrive early. Check out the exhibit and make sure everything you need is easily accessible. Test all computer equipment, lead management systems and any functioning marketing materials. Scout the exhibits next to yours, and make sure they're not doing anything that will affect your prospective clients.

4. Listen first, talk last. Don't begin by talking about your company to your prospects. Ask them about their company, and stay focused on the qualification process. This allows you to quickly qualify your audience and determine how much time to spend with them. You can even set a goal of how many people to talk to within an hour. Remember that the reason you are there is to meet as many potential clients as possible.

5. Always follow up. Immediately upon returning from the show, send follow-up correspondence to those potential clients. The most common error made by exhibitors is failure to follow up with their potential leads in a timely manner. A quick follow-up phone call allows you to touch base with your potential clients while you're still fresh in their minds.

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