Top Tips For Franchise Trade Shows

Franchise convention goer holding his Wheat Creative badge up for the camera

As we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of franchise trade show season, we thought it appropriate to post a refresher on the latest and greatest trends, along with the tried-and-true tactics that set franchisors apart. Because standing out at franchise trade shows – the right way – is key.

Let’s face it, whether you’re the one exhibiting or the one being exhibited to… neither trade shows nor exhibit halls are anyone’s absolute favorite place to be, so, together let’s explore some ways to make it a little more fun – and strategic – for all.

Pre- and Post-event Marketing is Key

The best way to waste your money is to not properly prepare for a franchise trade show. Just showing up and throwing up your booth is sort of like the equivalent of “Build it…” The thing is, if you want (the right) people to come, you need to invite them.

Search through all prospects in your pipeline, as well as those who have faded in the past six months (trust us, your brand may very well still be on their radar) and if they are located within driving distance, invite them personally to the event. If it makes sense, you could also offer to cover their entry fee. And if the trade show or convention offers you a list of attendees, reach out to them before the event as well.

Likewise, make sure you have a touch point planned for after the event. Strike while the iron is hot and follow up with each booth visitor with some form of personal correspondence. These personal touches are not only smart, they can make all the difference.

Use Technology… to a Point

It’s virtually a must to incorporate technology into your booth. This can mean anything from playing a franchise brand video on repeat on a flat screen to having multiple tablets available for visitors to flip through your franchise e-brochure.

Let us be clear, however, that these bits of technology are in no way meant to replace face-to-face conversations. Instead, they are meant to give your booth visitors something to look at while they (hopefully) wait to speak with you. After all, conventions were created to facilitate conversations. Right?

The Brand “Experience” Matters

While the personal experience described above is imperative, the truth of the matter is that you won’t have the chance to get personal if you’re standing in an ugly booth. It’s that simple. Invest in quality, professionally-designed booth backdrops and banners.

Your prospects are looking to be immersed in your brand, and the brand experience needs to be consistent both online and off. If your booth is the first touch point, make sure that the look and feel matches the online experience that’s sure to follow. This includes your branded franchise website, franchise email campaign, and other branded touch points. Think of it this way: if your business doesn’t appear to be “put together” why would someone want to invest in it?

Old School Still (sometimes) Rules

Printed franchise collateral – do it. Franchise brochures, franchise flyers, oversized cards – something. Even though they’ll get thrown into a convention bag with dozens of others… at least your brand is in that bag for attendees to look through later. If you don’t give them something to walk away with, chances are they’ll remember nothing.

Also, feature a franchisee! Who better to speak to prospective franchisees than an actual franchisee? You could even put them in the corner with a t-shirt that says: “I’m a franchisee. Ask me anything.” Kidding. Kind of.

Think Beyond the Booth

Sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with candidates who have come a considerable distance to interact with your brand, it makes sense to continue the experience beyond the booth. Consider hosting a private, yet informal cocktail party afterward. Or, perhaps a breakfast the next morning. An environment other than an impersonal convention hall can really make a difference.

There you go, armed with franchise trade show ideas to take with you to the next one… because there’s always a next one. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, conventions are a big part of the franchise industry, so let’s make the most of our time and money!

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