Whether you are a startup or a multinational company, the decision to exhibit at a trade show is always an important one and you should always strive to get the biggest return on your investment possible.

Communication strategy around a tradeshow being so important, I would like to share our experience from Mobile World Congress 2015.
SmartNotify.us was once again lucky enough to attend MWC and showcase right on the Intel booth.  Besides Intel, a few others of our customers and trial users were using SmartNotify to broadcast messages to their teams and targets.  

As we are now collecting and analyzing the data, here is some information you can use at the next tradeshow you will be exhibiting at (or running if you are in the business of event management)

1.     Do Not Email people the day-before, during, and up to 3 days after the show.
One of the biggest lessons from our stats at MWC is that people simply do not care about email:  40% of them had auto-responders on! 
And do you know how people deal with those pesky emails afterwards?  That's right, they delete them!
Also, don't be blinded by email-stats: Many emailing system out there will report an auto-responder as message read, thus skewing your stats and giving you a false sense of achievement

2.     SMS performs better than any other medium.
Given that Email is the worst medium you can use to convey timely and relevant information, it's no surprise that SMS performs better.  Still, an eye-popping 95% of the time, people will act on an SMS. 
If you are going to use this route, make sure that you properly handle all the different requirements related to sending via SMS.  Also, keep in mind that at international trade shows, many attendees will not want to bust their data plans and may either receive your messages after the facts or will just hate you for costing them money!

3.     Mobile messaging performs better than any other medium.
Wait a minute, didn't you just say that it was SMS?  Correct. Thank you for paying attention!
 Here is the dirty secret of tradeshows. The bigger the space at a convention center, the more dead spots you are going to run into.  Whether it's wifi coverage going down or 4g breaking down, relying on a single channel is just a recipe for disaster.
So anytime you need to communicate within a tradeshow, make sure you can do cross-channel and even change channels on the fly based on people's responses (or lack thereof).

4.     Add a touch of geolocation.
Once you are comfortable with the fact that coverage (wifi + cellular) is random, you should seriously consider geolocation as part of your communication arsenal.
For example, you could reach out to attendees, as they get closer to a certain location. 
Alternatively you could also do some social engineering and play on the fact that there are certain areas where you do not want to disturb people. Think of it as Geo-fencing for events.
For example, at MWC, the trip from the city to the convention center often involves taking seriously over-crowded trains.  The last thing people want to do is having to pull their phones and read messages.

5.     Parlez la langue de vos clients. (Speak in your customers' language)
The bigger the show, the more this step will make the difference between you and your competition.
During Mobile World Congress 2015  I ended up presenting in French and Spanish, and really wish I had been able to do Chinese. 
All things equal people would rather do business with vendors who speak their native language.  All things not being equal, people still would rather do business in their native language.
So segment your list to communicate based on languages.  Heck, you can even use time zones to better refine your send logic!

6.     Wait until the middle of the following week to follow up.
Regardless of the channel, unless you are one signature away from a deal, don't bother too much reaching out to attendees.  No one reads marketing emails a day or two after the show.  Wait until the following week.

 

7.     Careful with Twitter. 
I am even tempted to say Forget Twitter during a show.  Wait no...if you are Intel, Samsung, Huawei, IBM, then yes, use Twitter!   If you are a smaller company, think twice.
The main problem with Twitter is that during a tradeshow people will follow hashtags and the bigger the event, the bigger the firehose 
Even if you are saying clever things, odds are you will be ignored, no matter how many retweets or favorites.  There is value to using Twitter well before a show but during a show it is likely a waste of effort

 

8.     No one brings business cards now a days.
At MWC, I was struck by how few people had business cards, especially people from America (north and south !) and certain Asian countries.
The ones who did have cards, often were reluctant to share according to many exhibitors.  Since your job is to collect leads and start communicating with people, make sure you have a process in place. We use an internal tool iokard.com to start the conversations with the end users.  I saw a few attendees using a scanning device from the show while others had a paper-based system.

 

There is an adage about MWC that says that the bulk of business does not happen on the exhibition floor but rather on the meeting rooms and in the city after the show. The same is true at many shows and as an exhibitor or an event manager, you must focus your efforts before and after the show in getting people to come and visit you.  This is where we recommend using several communication channels based on how much you want to target your prospects.
During the show, try and rely on alternate communication channels, definitely stepping away from email and broadcasting based on people's preference and availability.

Gregory is part of the Intel Software Innovators’ program where we focus on IoT and Android.  At MWC, we specifically demoed an integration with Purr: A UK IoT startup that keeps data centers cool.

The demo, as well as our mobile app, is running thanks to the Intel XDK (we’re currently using the IoT edition) and the SmartNotify™ API is currently in private beta for developers who want to make sure their messages are delivered at the right time, on the right channel.   

If you are attending a tradeshow soon, or are running a big event soon, get in touch with us and we'll help you get setup with a free account so you can maximize your show's investment.