Trade Show ExhibitorsThere is no shortage of questions exhibitors should be asking themselves in the weeks and months leading up to a trade show.

In order to secure the greatest possible return on their investments in time, effort and resources in exhibition efforts, companies must be able to develop and implement proper strategies that set them up for success in the long term. However, nothing can truly be accomplished without obtaining the necessary knowledge to help exhibitors make the right decisions time and again, as well as execute those decisions effectively.

Throughout 2018, AEM has published a number of articles to help member companies and other trade show exhibitors accomplish their goals and maximize their ROI. More than anything else, though, the articles serve to help exhibiting companies ask, and ultimately answer, key questions aimed at helping them implement trade show strategies and best practices. With that fact in mind, here are five questions trade show exhibitors should be asking themselves:

1. How do I take my trade show program to the next level? According to AEM Director of Exhibition Services Mary Bukovic, driving the ongoing development of a trade show program hinges on how willing exhibitors are to outline trade show objectives and successfully link the objectives to larger organizational goals. Other tactics exhibitors can employ to take their trade show program to the next level include designing a booth that connects with customers and helps meet their needs, involving all staff in show-planning efforts and finding inspiration to enhance booth design and the attendee experience from situations found in everyday life.

2. What do I need to do to maximize trade show attendee engagement?  A trade show lasts just a few days, but its impact on attendees extends far beyond the hours they spend on and around the show floor. Maximizing attendee engagement starts with implementing and executing a well-conceived marketing strategy, one which extends to every phase of an event’s lifecycle. In addition, exhibitors must plan how to tackle attendee engagement with a well-conceived end goal in mind. Once that’s accomplished, then companies can determine what shows they should exhibit at in the future, so as to maximize their ROI.

3. How do I best meet the needs, wants and expectations of customers and prospective customers?  Making sure trade show attendees get the most out of their time spent on or around the show floor is a critically important task, and it’s also one that's not so easily accomplished. According to AEM Attendee Acquisition VIP Program Manager Jacquelyn La Favor, there are five key ways in which exhibitors can help improve attendees’ experiences: focus on new technological developments, innovations and product offerings, make sure booth staff representatives are prepared to do their jobs well, conduct product demonstrations, make sure the booth is staff at all times and facilitate opportunities for networking.

4. What factor most determines whether or not I can sustain long-term success as an exhibitor? Exhibiting at trade shows simply because that’s what’s always been done is not a good enough reason to continue doing it moving forward. According to Bukovic, a company’s trade show goals need to be aligned with its overall objectives and be specific enough to measure real value. If that's not the case, trade show involvement will be seen as just an expense subject to cutbacks. Exhibitors cannot afford to take shortcuts when establishing goals and objectives. Many companies scrutinize organizational budgets, so providing leadership with tangible results that align with business objectives will not only validate ROI, but will likely help with growing marketing budgets for future trade show involvement. 

5. How do I create the best trade show team I possibly can? One of the biggest mistakes trade show exhibitors face today is figuring out how to make their exhibits as successful as possible, on their own, without adequate resources (time, money, support or education). Taking the time to learn as much as possible about what goes into exhibiting is the most important task of all, and it can’t be done unless companies use all of the resources they have at their disposal. Simply stated, those that do this most effectively are able to stay a step ahead of their competition.

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