Trade shows are a large investment, so do everything you can to make that investment pay off for your company.
Trade shows can be a great way to promote your business, brand, and products and services. A strategic approach to your pre-, during- and post-show marketing and public relations will give you an edge when it comes to interacting with current and potential customers – and ultimately generate valuable sales leads.
Here are some tips to help your company stand out in the crowded sea that is a trade show:
- Start planning early. Proper planning for a trade show can take anywhere from six months to a year. The earlier you start, the more time you have to devise and carry out a strategy to build excitement around your presence at the show.
- Develop and infuse a strategy. After deciding which show(s) would be best to promote your company, define your trade show goals and align them with your sales, marketing and PR. Identify a call-to-action to serve as your guide for all of the pre-, during- and post-show collateral that you will need to make your show presence a success.
- Generate pre-show interest. Decide how you are going to let your target audience know that you will be at the show and what you will be presenting. Ideas to boost awareness include sending out invites or a direct mail campaign; advertising in trade publications; using public relations to garner media attention; emailing your opt-in database; posting trade show news to your website; and sponsoring the show.
- Stand out at the show. You need to be visible, regardless of how much interest you generated with pre-show marketing. Ways to attract traffic to your booth include banners, giveaways, contests, demonstrations and interactive elements. Make sure your staff is friendly and personable, and knows how to speak to key sales and marketing messaging. You should also collect visitors’ contact information and ask if they would like to opt-in to receive e-communications for post-show marketing purposes. At the very least, you should hand out informative literature to everyone who visits your booth. If your budget allows, consider distributing promotional items or hosting a hospitality event to make a lasting impression after the show. Get creative with ideas for the show, but remember that everything should reflect your sales, marketing and PR objectives.
- Follow up with everyone after the show. Your success at a trade show isn’t measured the day you pack up your booth. Follow up with your booth attendees as well as those who didn’t make it. Think about sending a “thank you” e-blast or mail piece to your new contacts, with a survey to gauge how they felt about your presence at the show. For those who didn’t make it to your booth, you could send a “sorry, we missed you” communication. You could also feature a show recap on your website to give the highlights to anyone who missed it. Most importantly, pass all leads to your sales team so they can convert those leads into customers.
Have you used any special tactics to promote your company at a trade show? Let us know in the comments below.