For many people who attend tradeshows or special events, the tradeshow begins when they step into your booth for the first time, looking at your equipment offerings and chatting with your employees. Once a tradeshow or special event kicks off, it’s easy to forget all the work that went on behind-the-scenes to make it happen.
The truth is, a lot of effort goes into planning and executing your rental store’s presence at a tradeshow or special event — the scope of the work probably isn’t known or appreciated by most. That said, there is a method to it, and for your rental store to successfully participate in a tradeshow or special event, it is important that you understand the processes behind how a show is done.
Regardless of the size of the tradeshow, the planning process is the same — or at least it should be. The considerations for planning and executing any tradeshow are as follow:
Determine the Purpose and Objectives
Select a Location and Design to Strategic Purpose
Develop the Communication Plan
Swag, Gimmicks, Games and Freebies
Customer Engagement Plan
Conduct a Post-mortem
Step 1: Determine the Purpose and Objectives
Initially, I had step 1 titled “Planning.” The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that every step in the process qualifies as planning. Often we are planning for the current show, but while that show is running, there is also planning what to do differently in preparation for the next. There needs to be a more granular way to kick off a show then, and this is summed up as evaluating each show and determining why your rental store is attending and what you hope to accomplish.
It is easy to underthink a show. After all, you sign up for a space, build some signage, send equipment and sales personnel and the customers just show up. Isn’t that it? As mentioned above, you need to determine why your store is exhibiting at the tradeshow or special event, and that determination starts with identifying the type of event it is.
There are several types of shows, and each one serves a different purpose. For example, Genie regularly attends four types of tradeshows:
Rental Association Shows
Each of these types of shows is different, and the approach we take for each one is as different as the objectives that we are working to accomplish. For example, The Rental Show is considered a “selling show” where we are meeting face-to-face with customers, gauging their needs and making a direct sale. We may even have product physically in the booth available for sale. We attend because it is a great opportunity to meet with our current customers, but equally important, we are looking to meet new customers and rekindle relationships with former ones. It is important that we understand this because how we entice each group of customers into the booth is a critical part of our planning process.
Alternatively, at a Supplier Conference, we typically know the people visiting the booth, and we probably know their needs as well. We are there to remind them that Genie continues to support their equipment needs, as well as to answer their questions and concerns and bring innovative new aerial products and technologies to the rental market. In this instance, we may go the entire show without signing a sales order, and that is OK. The goal was relationship-building, and if we did that right, the orders will come later.
Understanding why your rental store is exhibiting at a tradeshow or special event sets the foundation for all subsequent planning. Developing the messaging, and knowing which equipment to show and which sales people to bring all stem from who the audience is, and why they are in your rental store’s booth.