Trade show season heats up in the fall with promises of new business leads from a targeted pool of prospects. The average expense of participating ranges from $35,000 to beyond $50,000 when you add booth space and construction, conference fees, travel, lodging, meals and sponsorship. Is it worth it? Yes: It only takes one new customer to justify the investment.
Another big payoff is the public relations opportunities these shows provide. Below is a checklist after negotiating a keynote speech or panelist position:
- Set up meetings with attending media. Trade shows provide reporters with free passes to encourage them to attend. The media list can be obtained four to six weeks in advance, allowing ample time to reach out to individual reporters and editors. Invite them to the booth to meet and discuss industry trends with key executives who have been prepped on approved messaging. Just sending a press release is passive. Be active.
- Trade shows provide a five-minute platform to announce news during the show. Take advantage and tout your latest news, a new client, new market, new partner or perhaps a white paper. Give them something to remember that sets you apart from others.
- Conduct a media breakfast or dinner to build relationships. Reporters don’t want to be grouped with their competitors, but they’ll come if you give them access to something interesting. A CEO breakfast with customers, research analyst or the author of a relevant book can make it easy for a journalist to find news and new contacts. It also positions the company as a thought leader with a story sense.
- Work with the event publication to feature your products and services each day. Trade shows need content too — so offer them some. Drone World Expo is one of many shows with an extensive news section. They’ll be featuring interviews with companies and touting their news releases in the run-up to the November event.
- Showcase customers at your booth and in all communications with the media during the event. Customers are the proof point, and their front-line stories offer the quotations journalists need to tell your story.
- Finally, always add the name of the trade show to news releases distributed through wire services such as Business Wire and PRNewswire during the show. Media covering the industry will be on alert for news coming from the show; make it easy for them to find. Who doesn’t want to know what’s hot at the annual Consumer Electronics Show? Also, trade shows typically offer wire service discounts for exhibitors, a small savings. Check with your marketing contact.
Olmstead Williams Communications is at work for clients attending the October fintech conference Money 20/20 (submit your news for the show). ESNA, one of the top energy storage shows, is just a few weeks away, too — a can’t-miss event for our cleantech clients. With countless shows nationwide, there is always at least one that will move your business forward.
We know the business media is interested in business. Make it your business to be interested in them.