At DoubleDutch, we really enjoyed Andy’s excellent post “10 Things We’ve Learned From Exhibiting at Dozens of Trade Shows,” and wanted to follow on with a few more of our own.

We also spend millions of dollars each year producing and sponsoring events, and we feel immense pressure to squeeze as much ROI from our spend as possible.

5 things we learned about exhibiting at trade shows to improve ROI

Here are a few more tips from our own experiences:

  1. Do the work beforehand.  If you want to get maximum mileage out of your trade show spend, you have to put in the work prior to getting onsite.  Fight like hell to get the list of attendees and exhibitors.  Put your marketers or outbound sales team to work on scheduling appointments prior to the event.  Remember, this is likely your only chance of the year to have a particular decision maker in the same building as you, and you need to move heaven and earth to get that face to face.

  2. Negotiate like crazy during the sponsorship process.  Booth placement is important.  Speaking engagements are important.  Our data suggests that the sum of 1) having a stunning booth in a winning location, and 2) having a high profile speaking engagement, is greater than either of the two individually.  Be greedy, and push hard.

  3. Use the software.  Just about every tier one event is now using some sort of event software to help attendees and exhibitors connect with each other, whether it’s a mobile event app, dedicated networking software, or even a special instance of WeChat or something else.  Get your booth team on that software.  It’s another channel to drive maximum exposure and leads, and you would be silly to not use every channel available to you.

  4. Assign a booth captain.  Andy makes the excellent point that your booth presentation and staff need to be tight.  Your team can’t be sloppy and / or hungover as it will reflect poorly on your brand.  Any time you sponsor an event, you should make sure to assign a booth captain with the authority and personality to kick ass and take names in order to ensure a tight experience.  Initially this will likely be your event marketing person, but as your event sponsorship footprint grows, you will likely need to broaden the pool of people serving as booth captains.  The thing about events is that you don’t get a second chance (until next year).  If you blow your Dreamforce deployment, you are waiting 362 days for another opportunity.  Make somebody accountable.

  5. Make it a party at the end of the day.  As the hours go by, weary trade show travelers want to lighten up a bit.  We’ve had good luck by having cold beer and water on hand, doing fun stuff like setting up a putting green in front of our booth, and turning on Jambox-powered music at the end of the day.  Your job is to give the trade show wanderers a welcoming, inviting experience, and what that experience is can change depending on the time of day.

Anyone else have tips?  Please post!