"Many have pronounced tradeshow marketing dead," writes Bob Hebeisen at MarketingProfs. "But with the right strategy, hard work, and flawless execution, tradeshows can still be a productive part of your marketing plan." To make the most of your lead-generating budget, he suggests a twelve-step process that takes you from pre-show planning to post-show analysis. Here's a sampling of his advice:

Make sure the audience will want your product or service. Most tradeshows have a "who should attend" page at their website, and that's a good place to start. Go one better, though, and ask to see a complete list of the previous year's attendees—you can check for relevant job titles and company names—and confirm actual attendance numbers. "Don't expect every registrant to be from your target audience," advises Hebeisen, "but determine whether the ratio is acceptable."

Get on the presentation agenda. "Tradeshow attendees in North America are so jaded about walking the exhibit floor, especially at the executive level, that exhibitor presence alone might not be worthwhile," he notes. When you're on the presentation agenda, it validates your relevance to the audience, and gives you an opportunity to mention your booth for follow-up discussions.

Demand professional and aggressive performance from booth staff. Hebeisen recommends a strong elevator pitch, uniform attire, a ban on distracting smartphone usage and engagement with everyone who walks past the booth. It's not for nothing—an active approach can make the difference between 50 and 500 leads.

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