Heading to a Tradeshow in 2012? 5 Tips For Getting the Most ROI Out of Your Event

For some, Vegas brings memories of buffets, cocktails and the Cirque du Soleil show. For others, it brings back memories of shuttle schedules, sore feet and stacks of business cards – yes, I’m talking about tradeshow season.

While tradeshows aren’t anything new, in the past few years I’ve seen companies who more closely evaluate which tradeshows they go to – making sure they get the most ROI for any event.

I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to help out on the ground or from the office for a wide variety of shows in the past few years (from the nation’s biggest broadcasting convention, NAB to the mammoth Consumer Electronics Show) and with 2012 tradeshow season coming up, I wanted to list a few tips I share with my clients:

  • Plan early and often: Starting a tradeshow planning meeting 3-4 months prior to a show is ideal, allowing a team the necessary time and resources to execute the show vision and helping to avoid last minute set up, building or order costs.
  • Leverage a theme: My client, Microdesk, recently attended Autodesk University – a big show with a lot of competition. However, they had a really fun theme (asking attendees to “Get Kinect’d” using the popular Kinect program) that had a cohesive feel and helped them stand out during the pitching process.
  • Agree on key messages: In a sea of exhibitors, making sure your company has a clear message is critical. These messages should be agreed upon by the entire team and reflected in the on-site strategy. Your PR team can also help put together announcements and media alerts that help get these messages out to the media attending the show.
  • Work it on site: A lot of prep work can be done prior to a show (for example we regularly book media appointments for clients before a show) but networking hours or tweet-ups at the various shows are another great way to rub shoulders with prospects or media personnel. Our clients regularly see the most return from their media relations efforts by bringing us on-site to help get in front of press at the show.
  • Debrief right away: Got sore feet and achey bones? (or worse, the famed tradeshow cold.) Don’t let them get in the way of a proper team debrief to address what worked and what needs improvement for the future.

Need more tips? Feel free to get in touch with us or to comment below. And, if you’re heading to CES don’t forget to stop by the Absolute Software booth, on the 3rd floor of the Venetian (Toscana #3801.)