The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) is one of the biggest trade shows to hit Houston every year. More than 80,000 exhibitors and attendees from around the world will descend upon the city in just a few weeks – and the event is ripe with opportunity for those who know how to capitalize. However, not coming prepared to a trade show, or participating when not right for you and your business, can have the opposite effect.
As with anything in business, success starts with a plan – What is it you wish to achieve by attending or participating in the trade show? Who would you like to talk to and meet? Setting tangible, measurable goals (like how many leads to generate, for example), will help determine whether or not you’ve wisely invested your time, money and man-hours.
What should be in your tradeshow plan? Here are a few basics:
• Objective: Why are you participating? To drum up sales? To increase brand awareness? To enhance your professional network? Once you’ve decided, refer back to your objective at every decision point. Can’t decide between two options? Which helps achieve your objective better? The objective is the foundation of your trade show plan.
• Budget: It may sound obvious, but too many times we hear about people who have grand visions and only $10,000 to spend. Your budget, plan and expectations must align! Here are some additional tips to maximize your trade show spend.
• People: Who will represent your company or organization at the event? They should be knowledgeable, gregarious and confident. After all, you’re battling amongst hundreds or thousands of others for prospects’ attention! If you plan to engage media at the event, they should also be media trained.
• Time: It’s nearly impossible to coordinate a successful tradeshow exhibit in just a few weeks’ time. For larger events, months of planning are involved. If you don’t allow adequate time to prepare for an event, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
According to data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 70 percent of trade show attendees plan to buy one or more products while there. Additionally, 76 percent of attendees ask for quotes and 26 percent end up signing purchase orders – so ask yourself: Can I afford NOT to attend? Every worthwhile trade show, not attended, is money left on the table.