Successful Tradeshow Tips

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Onboard Informatics is pleased to announce its commitment as a Silver Sponsor for the Inman News Real Estate Connect Conference, being held January 7-9, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City.

Real Estate Connect, developed by Inman News, attracts over 1,000 leaders in the real estate, technology, lending, title and financial industries. Onboard has participated as a sponsor for the last several years and has had great success in developing new business, meeting with clients and marketing its products and services.

Tradeshows and conferences are a key part of many business marketing strategies. At Onboard, we strategically analyze what we need from a particular event before committing thousands of dollars to attend. We formulate goals, develop a plan for achieving them and agree on measurements of success.

I have attended many tradeshows in all different industries and while by no means am I an expert, I have had many conversations with vendors regarding their ROI at events. What is amazing to me is that many of them simply don't know. If we don't know what our ROI is and/or how we succeed (or not) relative to our success measures, how can we decide to continue to attend another event?

So, I thought I would share a few, very key but easy strategies for ensuring a successful show, which are many times overlooked:

  • Use your money wisely. Sounds simple enough but try to evaluate whether your giveaways really work. With the end of the year coming up, everyone should begin planning their needs for next year but they first need to evaluate their spending, so I ask: does passing out cheap pens that usually get jammed really promote your company in a positive light? Also, how high of a sponsorship level do you really need in order to achieve your goals? If all you need is booth space and the attendee list, is it necessary to buy that Diamond level sponsorship or can you get away with bronze?
  • Watch your travel costs. How many staff members do you need and what are their responsibilities while at the show? Is it simply to staff the booth or do they have a speaking opportunity? Who can handle dual roles? Travel adds up and can bust a budget very quickly.
  • Use your time wisely. Qualify those that come up to your booth. If real estate agents are not your target market, but brokers are, figure out how to get your message across in an efficient manner. If they like your product, they will probably relay the information.
  • Obtain the attendee list whenever possible and setup meetings prior to the event. The key decision makers are usually not the ones parading up and down the tradeshow aisles. They are meeting with people like you.
  • Hold a debrief meeting after the event. Discuss what you did right, what challenges you overcame and what you would change for the next event. Document the comments and refer to them often.

We hope you stop by our booth at the Real Estate Connect NY event - but don't expect any giveaways!

Image Credit: Chris Potter on Flickr.com