A good friend and colleague is exhibiting at his first trade show next week, and we spent some time ensuring that he does the right things to make the event a success. Here’s a brief list:

1. Ensure that your messaging for the show reflects the target audience. If you are a marketing firm exhibiting at a conference for finance people, your usual message may not connect. You can stress increasing revenue, margins, or cashflow over other benefits.

2. The people most likely to develop relationships should be walking the exhibit hall. You want them at the booth during high traffic periods – especially breaks between seminars or presentations.

3. The booth staff need to know how to contact roving account reps. I recommend that they check in at 15 minutes past every hour. This reliable schedule prevents getting clogged on the hour/half hour, and gives a constant touchpoint. Don’t rely on cell phones or text messages – if the rep is in a conversation, she shouldn’t answer, ability to hear is usually low, and coverage is always suspect in these venues.

4. Have a secondary lead capture system. Use whatever method of scanning delegates provided by the show, but “hot leads” should be recorded on a separate sheet of paper. Staple the lead’s business card to this.

5. Figure on roaming the show floor for no more than 4 hours. They can be exhausting, and drain your sharpness after too long. Leave for a while, and come back for the final 30 minutes that the show is open.

6. Follow up the hot leads in the first two weeks after the trade show. I recommend waiting 4 business days, completing your calls by 8 business days out. After this, recollection of what you do and why you are interesting will wane and be difficult to regain.

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