Five ways to pump your ROI

'Everything's been done, done, done,' says Jennifer Sickinger of Reed Exhibitions Canada, which manages about 20 trade shows in industries as wide-ranging as books, electronics and heavy machinery. Sickinger, who's also the president of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM), says the best way to garner extra attention is through the tried-and-true methods - sponsorship, banners and show guide advertising.

‘Everything’s been done, done, done,’ says Jennifer Sickinger of Reed Exhibitions Canada, which manages about 20 trade shows in industries as wide-ranging as books, electronics and heavy machinery. Sickinger, who’s also the president of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM), says the best way to garner extra attention is through the tried-and-true methods – sponsorship, banners and show guide advertising.

Even then, success is not guaranteed. Sickinger suggests a few tips and reminders for exhibitors to consider when planning their next trade or consumer show.

* Do your homework. Pre-show efforts – such as mailing out invitations to clients – pay off. Some marketers are reluctant to do this because they fear the show’s other exhibitors will end up pirating their clients. Sickinger scoffs at the idea. ‘Your customers are going to know about the show anyway,’ she says. ‘Better that they find out from you.’ Even if they don’t go to the show, invitations keep your company top-of-mind, she adds.

* Send the right people to the show. While it isn’t unheard of to hire actors or sports figures to attract attention, the best people to staff a booth are still those who actually work for the company. And make sure they’re not only knowledgeable but also enthusiastic, she says.

* Collect leads with class. Exhibitors have to find the right balance between crass showmanship and just placing an unattended bowl on a counter when collecting leads. ‘You have to be proactive without being in-your-face,’ she says. That’s where a healthy dose of interaction comes into play. Demonstrations are a good way to determine just how interested an individual is in a particular product or service. And if you want piles of leads, run a contest.

* Giveaways are good but an exhibitor shouldn’t offer them in lieu of proper sponsorships. Think about where all those free pens, pocket protectors and CDs usually end up within moments of being handed out – in a bag that’s been sponsored by other show exhibitors. That limits brand reach, she says.

* Don’t rest on your laurels. Follow up on those leads as soon as possible – and try to make communications relevant to each potential customer. WC