5 Questions to Ask While Prepping for Your Next Trade Show

It’s been a long time coming, but based on activity we’re seeing in the market, it might be time to start thinking about your next live event. Whether it’s your internal user conference, a big-ish trade show, or a boutique conference, events are about to take a tentative step forward this summer and fall as COVID-19 becomes increasingly under control. No, everything is not going to open up at once, and we likely won’t see record crowds. But we expect the shows that have already been scheduled in the AI, IoT, mobile, wireless and telecom industries to go live (some with a virtual component), and we’ll likely see a few more make their way onto the calendar as the year progresses.

So, after a year on hold, are you ready to dust off your events program and make a good impression? Here are five questions you should be asking your events team:

What are your goals for 2021 events? First things first, you must determine your definition of success. What are your expectations of 2021 events? Are they the same now as they were before COVID-19? Will you be happy with the outcome of an event if you give X number of demos, land a certain amount of qualified leads, or receive press coverage in a specific publication? How will you change your strategy from your 2019 events? Success may be different for every organization, especially in these uncertain times. Ultimately, if you don’t know what your goals are, it’s going to be difficult to achieve them.

Do you need a big announcement or are you going to test the waters first? While there won’t be as many announcements surrounding shows in 2021, there will be some—and some may be from your competitors. If you want to be a part of the buzz, you need an interesting story. If you want to lead the buzz, you need to reach higher. Perhaps you want to announce a new product, partner, customer, company strategy, expansion, or leadership position. Whatever it is, figure out a unique angle that will get your story heard above all the noise.

What opportunities will you have to be seen and heard? Will you have a booth or speaking opportunity at the show? Will you become a sponsor? Or will you forego the brand presence and have executives set up meetings privately alongside the event? Many companies are still opting for virtual presence at bigger events in 2021, and yours might be one of them. Spend some time talking with your team about how you can make a splash.

Have you tested your key messages? If you want a chance at landing press coverage, creating awareness or building relationships within the media and analyst communities, it’s important to ensure that your Positioning and Messaging is clear and concise. A step often overlooked is the socialization and testing of your messages with impacted executives and personnel, trusted customers and friendly analysts. Securing early feedback ensures that the positioning is not only well targeted but is also received as intended. Early feedback can also help while identify any holes that need to be filled concerning “proving” your strategy to internal and external stakeholders.

Do you have a concise elevator pitch? To make a good impression and take full advantage of your investment in a trade show, it’s critical that your first impression is clear. A big piece of that puzzle is honing your company’s elevator pitch. Everyone at your company should be speaking from the same playbook so that when potential customers ask, “What do you do?” you’re ready with a complete and compelling story.

Events in 2021 are going to be a slow roll as people gain comfort with venturing out into crowds again. By developing a plan for success, determining your announcements and presence, refining your company’s Positioning and Messaging, and crafting a killer elevator pitch, you’ll undoubtedly hit your ROI goals for your next trade show.

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