Customer Attraction Marketing Consultants

Trade Show Rule #1 Always Speak at Trade Shows

Trade Show Rule #1 Always Speak at Trade Shows

How to be a Speaker at Trade Events

Always speak at trade shows. When my clients ask me the best way to amplify their presence at a trade show and optimize their spend, I tell them to get on stage. When you are on stage, you are the expert or at least part of an expert panel.

Why do I think that speaking at trade shows is so important? Here are a few of my reasons:

  • Thought leadership. Be seen as a resource and an expert.
  • Personal growth; challenge yourself outside your comfort zone.
  • Networking; meet new people, partners, prospects.
  • Promote your company and technology.
  • Send traffic to your booth.
  • Support STEM.

So how do you find and appeal to a trade show organization on speaking opportunities ?

Find the right person. 

There is someone who is ultimately responsible for content at every trade show. Ask your booth space salesperson and then ask for an introduction, probably over LinkedIn. Pitch your idea for speaking to the show content moderator.

Watch for the “Call for Speakers”.

The website for each show or organization always puts out a speaker request form. This usually goes to exhibitors first, but if you attended or registered for a show you also may get put on this email list.

Buy a booth. 

You are so much more likely to be chosen as a speaker if you also are invested in the show, so commit to being an exhibitor if your budget allows.

Be educational, don’t be commercial. 

No one likes to be sold and they come to sessions to be educated. So avoid things like mentioning your model names, prices, competition or competitors and always strive to be educational. Separate yourself from your brand.

Commit quickly, commit often.

If you happen to be at the current year’s show event, and are catching a few sessions, try to find the organizer either before or after the show.

Make it simple for the event organizer. Think packaging.

Pre-write your presentation description and the title. If you are able, find 2-3 other people in the industry and put them on your “proposed” panel. Provide these names, titles, cell phone numbers, and headshots to the organizer, ASAP.

Bring your client on stage. 

Perhaps your customer would like to talk about a joint project or a technology. Often customers will have you sign NDAs and swear you to secrecy, until they don’t. Because now that it’s a success they want to talk about it in public. Stories about innovation and use cases make great testimonials.

Find out what’s topical. 

Search last year’s association website. Research popular topics for the show organizer and the industry and their competitor’s shows. There are lots to choose from: Interoperability, AI, Machine Vision, IoT, Industry 4.0, robotics niche topics, cobots, ROI, data; the list is very long.

Pay to Play

While I don’t love this approach, many trade show operators know that there is value in being seen as a thought leader and they will charge your company a fee to sponsor a speaking slot. As a marketer, I know there is value in this sponsorship.

Pro Tips:

  • Make sure that you have an up-to-date photo of yourself. Update your bio for inclusion in the show program and on the website.
  • Offer to step in, in case of a cancellation or in case you don’t make it into the current roster of speakers.
  • Spread yourself around. Target smaller venues and different organizations and potentially webinars.
  • Some trade organizations may compensate you by offering you a one night hotel stay, an honorarium and free attendance to the show. Rarely will they go beyond these offers.
  • Offer to moderate. Trade show organizers always need moderators. I have moderated many trade events and have found it an awesome way to network and to learn and to set yourself up to be a speaker next year.
  • Promote your participation in the event on LinkedIn and other social channels.
  • Don’t be a Stranger. Stay in touch with the show organizers and show content coordinators.