Too many businesses attempt the shotgun approach to trade show marketing: pick a trade show, show up, and hope for the best. In order to improve your chances of success you need to have a more systematic approach to your marketing plan.

Start by choosing trade shows that are attended by your target market. How do you do this? Ask the organizers to provide you with statistics from past shows, which should give you an idea of who usually attends. Look closely at ages, backgrounds, and economic status. If you are unsure of who your target market is you may need to start by defining this first.

Second, set some realistic goals to keep you focused. This could be 500 new leads, 10 sales, or just some good business promotion. From there you can choose how you will accomplish your goal; by handing out marketing materials, setting up a trade show booth, handing out sample or merchandise, or offering a prize.

Your sales team needs to be involved from the start so everyone is on the same page. Discuss goals, tactics, level of dress, and sales approaches. Remember that trade show marketing is much different than most other types of sales. Also discuss how leads are going to be approached after the trade show is completed.

Finally, get the word out! The more prospects that attend the event, the more opportunity you will have to turn leads into customers. You can promote your selected trade show through your website, social media, e-mail lists, press releases, basically any type of media that communicates to your target customer base.

When all is said and done, don’t forget to evaluate your trade show marketing efforts, and decide whether it was a good investment based on the number of leads and sales. Make a list of things that worked or did not work so you can improve your trade show marketing at the next event.

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