Many B2B companies have leveraged tradeshows as a vehicle to meet potential prospects and reconnect with current customers. In the last few years, tradeshows have attracted smaller audiences, yet they remain a solid avenue for companies to reach and connect with key media outlets, bloggers and industry analysts.

Scheduling face-to-face appointments with these influencers and your executive team extends the value of the show, helping ensure your tradeshow marketing efforts generate the maximum ROI. Follow these proven strategies at your next tradeshow.

Make a plan.
Most tradeshows provide exhibitors a pre-registered media/analyst list. Refer to your exhibitor manual for the person to contact about securing this list.

If your company isn’t exhibiting, research which, if any, publications and analysts are sponsoring the show. Then contact them to request an appointment. If no publications or analyst groups are sponsoring the show, approach the key media and analysts on your in-house media list and inquire if they are attending. You can also research who reported on the show the previous year and ask if they will be on-hand for the upcoming show.

Start early and stay focused.
Pick the top publications, bloggers and analysts you’d like to meet with, and focus your efforts on them. Ideally, you should start media outreach three to four weeks in advance of your tradeshow. If you wait until the show is two weeks out, you may find most media calendars are booked. In your outreach, suggest a couple meeting locations, such as your booth, the pressroom or a concession area.

Be respectful.
Many times analysts, bloggers, and sometimes editors, provide tradeshows with their cell phone numbers. We advise you to only call someone on their cell phone if it is critical. Otherwise, keep your outreach to emails and office phones.

How B2B companies can leverage tradeshows

Be realistic.
Just like you, editors, reporters, bloggers and analysts want to schedule a certain number of meetings during the show. That means they are likely to have only 30 minutes or so to meet with individual companies. Prepare your spokespeople on this so meeting expectations are clear from the start.

Be prepared.
Do your research on the influencers with whom your executives will be meeting. Find out what beats or industries they cover, as well as what they recently wrote about. Prepare a few key talking points that you can comfortably discuss in 30 minutes. Be sure to allow enough time for questions. If you make the meeting a dialogue, rather than a 30-minute monologue, you will net far better results.

Confirmations and re-confirmations.
Two to three days before the show, reach out to every appointment you’ve scheduled and make sure you know when and where you are meeting. Confirm all the details and meeting expectations.

Ensure the reporters, bloggers and analysts you are scheduled to meet with have your cell phone number as a way to contact you while at the show. If possible, get their cell phone number in case you need to reach them. Finally, prepare yourself for last minute schedule re-shuffling. People tend to run late, especially if the tradeshow spans several halls and people must walk from booth to booth for each appointment.

Follow up to close the loop and land the coverage.
The job doesn’t end once the tradeshow is over. Be sure to follow up with everyone you met with, preferably within a week. Thank them for meeting with your executive, provide any additional information they requested, and offer to be a resource for them for them in the future.