Trade show execution is like an opening night for the theater, the big game in any sport, and the wedding day for a bride; basically, your trade show’s on-site execution is what you’ve been preparing for over the past few weeks (or, hopefully, months). Once you have arrived in the convention city, your attention should be focused exclusively on obtaining your exhibiting goals. Most exhibitors get this, but what they don’t realize is that…
Follow up is like every show that comes after opening night in the theater, it’s the overtime in a big sports game, and the honeymoon for our bride; your follow up, in many cases, matters just as much, if not more (assuming you did show up and do at least something execution-wise), than your on-site efforts. Neglecting to follow up sounds crazy and, yet, for so many exhibitors, it’s a perfectly normal tradition.
Now, you may be wondering, “If each component is so important on its own, why are both combined into one step?” The reason these two, admittedly separate, exhibiting efforts have been put together within this one step is that they go hand in hand; to be clear, I’m saying that one will not reach its potential without the other.
For example, if you have the very best on-site execution in the world, you will achieve some exhibiting success (a few purchases, some new networking connections, maybe increased awareness or industry standing too); however, without any follow up, basically all you’ve really accomplished in the convention city is pumping up your prospects so they are more than ready to purchase the products and services you offer from someone else (who does follow up). Specifically, it’s your competitors who will happily take advantage of the time and effort you’ve put towards each encounter as they delight your visitors with their version of your offerings.
Conversely, even if you’re equipped with the very best follow up program anyone has ever created, but none of your visitors remember your lackluster on-site efforts, you are basically starting fresh after the show. As you can imagine, making cold calls after a trade show when so many others are calling back new “old friends” to continue building their relationships is not going to be super productive. Don’t get me wrong – you may still make some sales, convince some formerly unimpressed attendees to think about your company in a new way, or start building a few relationships; but your final results won’t be as substantial as they could have been, if you had done a great job on-site too.
After spending thousands (or in most cases, tens or hundreds of thousands) of dollars on your trade show, would you be satisfied by either of these situations?
If you’re like me, neither of those outcomes is enough on its own. Hopefully, you have come to the conclusion that, in order to excel at either execution OR follow up, you have to focus on excelling at both execution AND follow up together.
After all, execution and follow up impact your industry standing (your market share and how you are viewed by your industry as a whole), your team’s morale (bringing your team closer together or driving them further apart), your professional relationships (making new connections as well as building upon established ones), and your return on investment… enough said?
As always, if there’s anything I can do to help with your trade show execution and follow up or something else, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time. Best wishes for your upcoming fall (and other future) trade show efforts!