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Across the globe, many countries are still actively on shelter in place orders, approaching opening their respective societies and economies.  As more people emerge into the world and get comfortable returning to their daily lives, trade shows will come back.  The thought of your next trade show appearance may be somewhat of a foreign concept right now.  It may be difficult to imagine yourself wandering further than the mailbox or Sparky’s favorite patch of grass.  However, trade shows will return.  So how do you prepare for a post coronavirus trade show appearance?  There are things you can do now to ensure your success in the future:

Start Planning Your Next Trade Show Appearance Now

For many of us, we’ve got nothing but time.  Gone are the distractions of going to the gym, happy hours, play dates, carpooling the kids between endless scheduled lessons.  Instead, you’ve got a lot more time in your work day (when you’re not walking the dog or feeding your kids) to focus on the future.  The future includes your next trade show appearance.

trade show budget calendar

In years past, you might have waited until only a few months prior to the trade show to start the process of deciding upon a budget, finding a vendor, and then designing your trade show exhibit.  However, if you wait this long again, you’ll find yourself competing against exhibitors across multiple industries in a narrow time frame when dozens of other shows have all rescheduled.  You don’t have the luxury to wait.  Those exhibit houses that survive the temporary shutdown of trade shows will be extremely busy.  Many smaller exhibit houses will not be able to reopen their doors.  You may find that your usual Account Executive was let go months ago.  Now is the time to do your internal planning and to find your exhibit house partner to plan your next trade show appearance.  You’ll want to get on their design and production calendar sooner rather than later to ensure your next trade show appearance is a success.

Plan a Comprehensive Marketing Campaign to Promote Your Trade Show Appearance

One thing that many businesses will be judging is the ROI of your next trade show appearance.  Company stakeholders will want to know if they can survive in a smaller trade show booth space, if they can drop some of the schmoozing events that they relied on in the past, and where they might be able to get more bang for their buck.  In order to encourage a successful trade show appearance without many of the bells and whistles you might have relied on in the past, you’ll want to focus keenly on the marketing.

email marketing

Marketing your trade show appearance will necessitate a multipronged approach.  Think of how the marketing and sales teams can work together to promote your presence on the trade show floor in order to drive more traffic through your virtual front door. This should include digital campaigns, social media marketing, and calling campaigns to get the word out.  If you wait too long, you lose momentum and the time to carry out a steady drip campaign.  If you don’t do enough, you lose the opportunity to rise above competing voices.  Prepare your campaign early and obtain buy in to ensure your next trade show appearance is successful.

Conduct Mandatory Trade Show Booth Staff Training

We’ve long advocated training your trade show booth staff to have a more successful trade show appearance.  Some people listen and hit a home run every time.  Others do not.  Your first trade show appearance after the coronavirus crisis will be a test of your team’s strength, empathy, and ability to adapt.  Many trade show attendees will be excited, but some will certainly still be a little timid.  People may be afraid to get too close or to try a demonstration.  There are opportunities here to put people’s minds at ease and to also appear the consummate professionals we know you can be.

training booth staff

Training should include topics such as cleanliness and hygiene.  Will you offer cleaning stations as a part of your trade show display?  Will you have booth staff cleaning demonstration stations or products after every use?  How will you demonstrate a commitment to potentially nervous attendees’ safety during your next trade show appearance?  Will your demonstrations be reimagined as virtual tours? Will you embrace a theme and props to communicate your brand story from a distance?  How will your staff engage people as they pass by?  These are all things that need to be worked out in your training in advance of your next trade show appearance.  Human behavior will change as a result of this unprecedented event.  How you adapt to it will in part determine your success.

We’ve all been put on a sort of pause in the trade show industry.  Businesses across the globe are eager to get in front of their customers and prospects again in the flesh.  Many are eager to leave behind their daily work from home uniform of pajamas in favor of dressing up for work again.  When trade shows rebound, the actions you take now will determine the success of your next trade show appearance.  Rise to the occasion and lead your business through this uncertain time so your next show is a home run.

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