Maximize your Tradeshow Visibility

With IBC2017 looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time to share some tips about how to maximize the visibility of your company and products in Amsterdam this September. The bonus is, of course, that these guidelines don’t just apply to IBC — they’re good for any trade show.

Always plan well in advance and ensure your customers, sales prospects, and the trade media know you’re going to be exhibiting at the show. There are two easy ways to do this. First, produce a trade show preview and send it out to all the media platforms covering the event. Note: If you’re going to be exhibiting at IBC, this must be done quickly, as many publications are already putting together their show preview editions. Second, email all your customers and sales prospects, letting them know your booth number and what demos you’ll be highlighting.

Follow up your show preview with a press release that talks in more detail about one key product or major announcement you’ll be highlighting at the event. This will provide your potential booth visitors (i.e. your future customers) with more information about your activities and products.

Don’t miss out on industry awards and speaking opportunities. Your company stands to gain a lot of exposure by being shortlisted for an award or having a senior executive deliver a presentation or participate in a panel discussion. Often, all it takes is filling out an entry form, or drafting a short presentation outline.
If you are interested in finding out more about preparing for a trade show, check out our Ultimate Trade Show Checklist.

If you are thinking about organising a press conference, don’t miss out on our Press Conference Checklist video.

Finally, we’ve got resources that will help you snag speaking opportunities at trade shows and industry events. You can watch the video on our Speaking Appearances Checklist here.

Neil Howman, Managing Director
202 Communications

Speaking appearances checklist (with videos and download)

Speaking at an industry conference or a trade show is a fantastic way for you to communicate with a large group of people in one go. It provides vital visibility to both you and your business, and helps to establish you as an authority, and a thought leader, within your industry. When your message is combined with an audience that has the potential to influence others, the opportunity becomes that much more valuable. It’s this combination of a strong message and exposure to the right audience that makes a speaking opportunity such an effective way to raise your industry profile.

The advantages of speaking at an industry event can be significant; however, be careful when selecting which event and consider how you’ll benefit. This checklist, which is available here as a free download, will help you make the right choices as you consider your next speaking engagement.

Is the event right for you?


Securing speaking appearances can be a rather difficult and lengthy process, especially if you haven’t done one before. However, that doesn’t mean you should just accept the first opportunity that comes your way. Ensuring the right fit will go a long way towards making sure you’re not wasting your time.

Before you apply, take a close look at the event in question. Will it put you in front of the right people? If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask the event organisers about the type of audience they expect. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them for the anticipated attendance numbers.

It’s also important to consider the costs involved. If you’re looking at a potential “pay-to-play” scenario, you need to determine whether it’s worth the expense. Find out if the event has other opportunities for you to communicate with your desired audience; these could include panel discussions or editorial coverage in trade publications. If possible, speak with people that have presented at this show in the past and ask them about their experiences and the return on their investment. This will give you a good idea as to whether or not the show is worth your time and money.

Start looking for next year’s opportunities now


Figuring out which events you’re interested in is just the first step in landing a speaking opportunity. The next step is to ensure you’re in the running to be considered.

The typical trade show has an initial deadline for submissions six to eight months before the event. This means that you’ll have to plan well ahead in order to get your submission entered in time. Therefore, your best bet is to start looking for information about a given trade show a few weeks after the current year’s event has taken place. This will give you enough time to figure out what you need to do in order to submit an application, as well as provide a timeframe for collating the necessary information.

Study submission criteria carefully


Every event has a different set of submission criteria. Assuming they are all the same may be the very mistake that results in you being on the outside looking in. The submission criteria will tell you exactly what is required and when it is needed. Some events want a simple abstract of your presentation, while others will ask for your completed presentation, along with any supporting media. Knowing exactly what the show is asking for will help you avoid any administrative errors that could cost you your place at the event.

A careful examination of the submission criteria may also open your eyes to additional presentation types that you were unaware of, such as joining a panel or demonstration. Additionally, thinking outside the box may help you to find a place at the show of your choice. For example, conducting a presentation with a customer is not only a novel approach, but it will add extra gravity to your message. It is an opportunity to show your audience that you understand the issues they face, while at the same time your customer’s testimonial helps them better relate to your message.

If you have any questions about where you fit into a given event, contact the organisers — be sure to mention to them any ideas you have for panel topics or workshop discussions.

Keep your submission to the point


Calls for submissions may include limits on content, such as “three pages max” or “up to 2,000 words.” It’s important to note that you’re not required to reach this limit in your submission. In fact, doing so may jeopardise your standing as a potential speaker.

Instead of cramming your submission with extraneous content, focus on being as concise as possible. A few paragraphs of highly focused content are far better than several pages of fluff. This is something to keep in mind not only for your initial submission, but for your actual presentation as well.

A good rule of thumb is to come up with five main points that you want to cover. When crafting your presentation, build it around those five points. This will keep you focused on the ideas that matter, while curtailing any desire to go off-topic.

Promotion and preparation


Promotion and preparation might seem like two separate concepts, but the two are very closely related. Without both, your speaking appearance has virtually no chance of being successful.

As soon as your presentation is accepted, it’s time crank up your promotion machine. Start talking about it with interested parties, including customers and colleagues. Send out an e-mail blast outlining your presentation to everyone you think may be interested, such as sales targets, colleagues, industry contacts, etc. Promote your appearance on social media wherever possible. And don’t forget to take advantage of all marketing channels provided by the organiser; after all, it’s in their interest to get the word out too.

As you promote your speaking appearance, start to prepare your presentation. Focus on your five key points, and work on cultivating a 15- to 20-minute presentation that highlights these, without resorting to filler. Think about how your slides will look on the screen. Don’t clutter slides to the point that they can’t be read, but don’t under-populate them either. Consider the day-of-show details, such as how big the room is and how many people you’re likely to be talking to. Rehearse as often as you can, and solicit honest feedback from friends and colleagues whose opinions you value.

Practice makes perfect — this principle holds true for both promotion and preparation. The better you prepare, the more likely it is that your presentation will be a success. And the more you work at promoting it, the more visibility you’ll have on you and your ideas.

When you’re speaking about the industry for which you have such enthusiasm, it’s only natural that you’ll be inclined to promote your own products and services. It makes sense — the end goal of any trade show appearance is to generate interest in your company. Unfortunately, speaking and sales don’t always go hand in hand. The members of a trade show audience have typically paid to attend. They didn’t fly in and lay out a significant sum of money to listen to your sales pitch. If you end up going into sales mode, the odds are very good that you’ll alienate your audience and undermine the purpose of your appearance.

So, then, why make a speaking appearance if you can’t pitch your products? For a few important reasons. First, the very fact that you’re speaking at a major show indicates that you have something important to say. It gives you credibility, and gives people a reason to take notice of you and your business. Furthermore, a well-oiled speech conveys the fact that you understand the problems of your customers, as well as your willingness to help them solve those issues. Lastly, peer-reviewed presentations are part of a successful sales and marketing mix, and can contribute greatly to an increase in sales activities.

After the presentation


The work you do after your presentation is just as important as the presentation itself, if not more so. It’s the effort you put into following up after the show that will make you stand out among attendees.

After you’ve finished your presentation, take some time to talk directly to the people in attendance. Take note of the questions they ask and the roles they have within your industry. Exchange contact information with these individuals, and follow up with them shortly after the show.

Of course, you don’t have to limit your follow-up to just the people with whom you connected with personally. Ask the event organisers for a full list of attendees, then reach out to them at your earliest convenience. Thank these people for their attendance and, if possible, include a copy of your presentation, along with any supporting materials, such as additional slides, diagrams, or articles/white papers etc.

Once you’ve followed up with the show attendees, use your presentation to enhance your online brand. If you recorded your speech, turn it into a podcast or a video. If you choose to make it into a video, converting your presentation into small clips may work best in terms of providing digestible and relevant content to your audience. If you didn’t record your presentation, you can always redo it, and upload the recorded version alongside a set of slides to accompany your verbal words. If you prepared a paper for your event, feel free to use that as a submission to a trade publication or as a piece of valuable web content.

However you use your presentation, be very careful not to upload anything until after the show is over. Many conference organisers insist on speakers presenting original content at their events. Although the material must be original at the time of the presentation, it never hurts to think ahead to how you might put your content to good use after the event’s conclusion.

Conclusion
If you are up for the challenge, find some great events that fit your goals and book some speaking gigs! It’s a great way to reach a lot of people, further establish you and your company as industry leaders, and maximise your visibility.

Good luck!

Click here to download your copy of the free Speaking Appearances Checklist.

Neil Howman, Managing Director
202 Communications

And the Winner Is…

Announcing new products at trade shows is a great way to maximize visibility in the trade media. For many of the leading industry publications, their trade show editions often achieve the highest readership figures, so naturally they are looking to report on all the latest news and developments.

For 202’s clients, trade shows not only provide them with the opportunity to engage with the media face to face, but also allow them to “live demo” their new products to potential customers. One conversation that often arises from this is: “In addition to meeting with editors and distributing press releases and producing thought leadership articles, how can we continue the buzz that our new product has been creating?”

We would suggest one way you can achieve this is by entering your product for an industry award. Winning an esteemed industry award is a great way to tell more potential customers about your company and its award-winning products. You can also reference award wins in product literature, data sheets, future press releases, and articles.

With industry awards in mind, here are a few tips on how to draft the perfect awards entry:

  • Focus on what’s innovative: While it’s important to include technical details about your new product, don’t go overboard. Focus on what’s innovative. Why is your product different than others on the market? Is anything about your product an industry-first?
  • Speak about collaboration: If you’ve worked with a leading pay-TV operator or taken part in a massive integration with third-party partners, your project may be worthy of winning an award. Write down what’s revolutionary about the integration and how you were successful at working together. Examples of real-word deployments are best.
  • Talk about the challenges and benefits: What are the technical, creative, and business challenges that your product resolves? Describe, in detail, the benefits of your product. Will your product open up new revenue or lower costs for customers? If your product helps customers address a current industry trend (i.e., OTT, UHD/4K), that will get your nomination even greater attention.

Neil Howman, Managing Director
202 Communications