Trade shows. Networking events. Client show events. Candidate happy hours. When we refer to trade shows, we are referring to all of this. As Shakespeare applied to all of his plays, we focus on the play within the play – or as we call it, the show within the show. When you attend any of these events, your goal is likely to generate leads of some sort. However, you need to be able to secure the time with your prospects to be able to explain why they should work with you. If you are just showing up to any kind of event and simply setting up your booth and waiting for the audience to come to you, then keep on reading.

Strategy First

Determining what you want to get out of your show is the beginning of your strategy. Are you looking to generate a certain number of leads? What are your lead qualification criteria? Do you want to increase your brand recognition? Are you driving new candidates? Regardless of your goal, documenting it is step one. After determining your goal, you must determine the methods that are available to you in order to ensure that you meet your goal. Email. Mailers. Door hangers. Social media. Website. Advertising. Any of these median in any of these media utilized properly drive your strategy.

The next step is determining the budget you want to use. The best way to calculate the appropriate budget is to determine how much business you are able to drive from successful interaction with the audience. If four new clients are your goal and you expect 400 people through your booth, then you are likely able to set a reasonable budget. What are four new clients, not positions, worth to you? What theme can you use to drive the audience towards you? What marketing efforts go along with that theme?

What is Your Show?

The show within the show implies that in addition to showing up to the event, you are going to have some sort of show of your own within your booth. Utilizing your theme like “relieve your hiring stress” or “get off the staffing roller coaster” gives you the ability to create activities in your booth around stress relief or the roller coaster. What can you do to ensure that your show within the show drives the audience to you?

Execution is Everything

Don’t wait until you get to the event to begin your sales/marketing efforts. Have you obtained a list of attendees from the event coordinators? With your theme in hand, pre-promotion-like emails and mailers, social media, and your website attract the audience. In addition, giveaways draw your audience to the booth and door hangers reach the audience after they’ve arrived. However, if you successfully built and applied your theme, then you are sure to draw a crowd.

Working the Crowd

The show within the show is so important because it creates a line of people waiting to participate. This is now your captive audience to be able to truly qualify your leads and sell your audience with all the time you need. “F U” means follow up. Did you purchase a lead retrieval system in order to have a qualified list after the event? If so, you should be taking advantage of putting your lead qualification criteria into the retrieval tool. This allows you to be able to rapidly market to qualified leads upon your return or before. Over 90% of leads from trade shows do not get followed up on. I know – you are thinking to yourself, “My team follows up on all leads.” If that is the case, then congratulations you are unique! However, if you are with the rest of us – establishing marketing follow up, as well as sales follow up, and holding all accountable is imperative.

Shakespeare isn’t wrong. The show within the show is able to attract your audience and deliver results – but, you need to take the steps to ensure. To be or not to be – that is the question.

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About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for top organizations.