Spring and Fall are prime times for trade shows, business meetings, and conventions. These events can be an effective way to increase awareness for your product or organization and a great way to meet current and potential clients, but it pays to be prepared well in advance of the event itself (that means NOW!)

Why the Heck Am I Here?

What’s your Return On Investment for this effort? Hopefully, you’ve taken time well in advance of the event to really consider the value of your participation. You need to have a reason to be there, and a goal for your participation that aligns with and promotes your business or personal strategy. Considerations might include who will attend, what kind of space you need, and what your space might include to best convey your message and stand out in the sea of booths and people. Make sure you have a budget and a timeline to ensure you meet event deadlines and don’t incur unnecessary costs.

How Do I Make the Most of My Participation?

There are hundreds and even thousands of attendees at most trade shows. You can’t reach them all, nor do you want to. Make sure you’ve determined ahead of time the specific targeted audience for your message. Your booth, materials and message must be focused on a qualified target audience.

Make sure you promote your presence on all of your social media outlets, before, during, and after the event. You can use this to drive your market to the event, engage with them at the event, and follow up afterward.

What Do I Do After the Event?

After expending time, money and energy pre-planning, organizing, and participating in a trade show or other similar event, don’t let it all go to waste through a lack of follow-up. Respond to contacts and leads as quickly as possible following the event. If you fail to make the most of your exposure, you open the door for your competitors. Sending out information before the event is even over is one way to get ahead of the curve (and may encourage contacts to come back to visit you again), but at the very least, ensure you touch base within three days, or your ROI will drop precipitously.