Fall not only brings a new school year, cooler temperatures and the emergence of college football rivalries, but also the start of conference season. This is the first time in several years people are feeling comfortable enough to travel and gather in person again, so this trade show season is already shaping up to be a busy one.
Conferences can be an effective way for your organization to network with relevant customers and prospects, gather leads and increase your brand recognition and visibility. They also make for great forums to spend face time with reporters, forming strong relationships that benefit both parties well into the future.
However, trade shows can also be overwhelming, especially compared to the virtual events we all have recently become accustomed to. Good news - there are several steps that can be taken ahead of time to maximize the value of your trade show experience.
First, take a look at the agenda and make a tentative schedule, noting vendor hall hours and any evening events you’d like to attend such as dinners or happy hours. Trade shows often have several sessions happening at once, so it’s \important to determine which are most relevant to you and your business. Even a quick study of the event space layout can be extremely beneficial, paying attention to where areas such as the press room and booths you want to visit will be located.
If available, review the attendee list for any clients, prospects or partners you’d like to meet with onsite. Oftentimes, reaching out ahead of time to confirm a meeting time and location can help ensure you actually connect with your targets. Also, inquire about a media list. This is where your PR team should be able to assist, sharing intel on which publications will be in attendance and helping to pitch meetings at the show.
Releasing news right before or during the event can be a strong way to generate momentum onsite and have something timely to discuss with prospects and reporters. However, doing so requires planning beforehand, making sure the press release is drafted, approved and ready to go.
Before you attend the show, leverage social media to inform your network that you’ll be at the event. Using the event’s hashtag and tagging the hosting group can be a great way to support the show while also boosting your visibility.
Trade shows present a strong opportunity to make valuable connections and generate leads, but preparation must be done beforehand to help optimize your ROI. This is where tapping your PR and marketing team adds significant value. They can help and prepare, ensuring your company has a smooth, successful trade show season.