How to Up Your Marketing Game with Trade Shows
How would you like your marketing message to able to reach hundreds of people in a short amount of time? Although it sounds too good to be true, it’s not! Trade Shows are able to provide you with an audience of eager attendees interested in finding the perfect solution for their everyday problems, whether it be inside or outside of the office.
If trade shows are so great, why do many businesses choose not to participate? Simply stated, they require some work before, during, and after the event. That can be intimidating to businesses of any size. Luckily for you, we have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your trade show experience.
Before the Show
Build up the anticipation! Make sure your clients, customers, employees, and fellow attendees know you’re excited to be attending the show. Internally, start forming a plan on how you’ll make your space stand out! Don’t forget to broadcast your booth number on promotions and let people know where you’ll be at the show.
Plan out your Booth Essentials
Banners, Backdrops, and Signage – You have less than 5 seconds to grab a person’s attention at the show! Make sure your booth has awesome banners, backdrops and signage to make you stand out from the crowd. Use color to make your booth pop and draw in the passersby.
Giveaways – Let attendees take a piece of you home with them! Stand out with a creative promotional product that goes hand-in-hand with your business. Pens and post it notes are great to have, but also think about adding something that makes you stay at the top of their mind after the show. Another good idea is to have a big giveaway people would enter their business cards or fill out a form to win.
Printed Materials – Take stock of your printed materials and make sure you have plenty so that you won’t run out during the show. Make sure all of your materials are consistent and have your correct contact information, logo, and website. Consider creating materials to match your booth like rack cards and brochures. Don’t forget to have employees attending take stock of their business cards so that you can order more if necessary.
Promote Your Attendance
Mail a Postcard to Target Attendees – See if you can procure a mailing list of registered attendees. Welcome them to come to your booth and even offer a special promotion if they return the postcard to you at the event.
Mail to Your In-house List – Invite your customers and prospects to meet up with you at the show. Even if they aren’t coming to the event, your invite reminds them that you’re out in the community or the industry exhibiting. It helps build your relationship with your customers.
Post on Social Media – Make sure you give the event a shoutout on social media. You can tie it in with what you’re doing, giving customers a behind the scenes look at your process. If the event has a hashtag, use it to link up and find other attendees and exhibitors and connect before you even meet!
During the Show
It’s showtime! Make sure that the booth staff stays in high spirits and has adequate break time to walk the show for additional networking. When the spotlight is on, be sure everyone is putting their best foot forward. This event is about the attendees, not just about selling your products and services.
Engage Potential Customers
– Talk with attendees, not at them! Get them involved in your booth with a game, contest, or simply by asking them about themselves.
– Post photos on your social media sites with the event hashtag and don’t forget to include photos with your attendees! Make sure you tell visitors to follow you to see if they’ll find themselves online.
– Create buzz about your booth in the crowd. Have your representatives work the show and hand out invitations to come to your booth for a special giveaway.
– Draw people into your booth. It won’t be difficult if you make your booth interactive. Have a quick game, or big statement piece that people would love to be photographed beside. Any game can be fun – whether it’s as easy as tic-tac-toe or as complicated as having a mini golf putting green. Don’t want to host a game? Have food, candy, or coffee to get people to your booth.
– Pass Out Freebies – Let visitors know they are welcome to take your giveaways home. Sometimes people feel bad taking something if it looks like it’s the last one, so be sure to have a few restocked on the table at all times. Try to hand them out personally to visitors, and if you’ve been speaking even include a business card. The recipient will be 4x more likely to remember you!
After the Show
Even though the trade show is over, the bulk of your work has just begun. After the show, you’ll want to make the most of your trade show experience and connections. The goal is for you to try and make a lasting impression on those who visited you at the show, and ultimately get the sale!
As Soon as You Return
– Enter the contact information of those you met into your database. You’ll want to do this while everything is still fresh in your mind. If you interacted with the person, be sure to put information into your comments section for future reference.
– Fulfill show inquiries and requests. Answer any immediate and pressing questions booth visitors asked during the show. If emailing answers, do so from your work email and not through a marketing program. The days after trade shows, people tend to be inundated with emails from exhibitors. Keep it short, sweet and personal.
– Design a direct mailer with images from the trade show incorporated into the piece. If you don’t have images from the night of, at least place images of the booth staff so attendees will see a familiar face. Make this mailing as personalized as possible by using variable data to include their names, and perhaps even the preferences they had on your checkbox form. You could also segment your list and mail to them by preference, to triple the chances of engagement. It’s important to get this piece in process immediately so that your prospects receive it while it’s fresh in their mind
– Write thank you notes to those who helped you make an awesome booth! That includes event hosts, sponsors, booth staffers, vendors, and anyone else involved in planning and executing your booth space.
Within A Month
– Did you notice a common theme in the questions you received at the trade show? Use that information to create a content plan for upcoming social media updates, blogs, email newsletters, and print newsletters. Consider using the information to create pamphlets, ebooks, and guides to make life easier for future prospects.
– Mail your new show contacts a follow-up letter inviting them to contact you personally if they have any questions. Include a fantastic offer exclusive for show attendees.
– Give non-attendees a chance to grab some savings. Have a post-show offer that you’re extending to prospects and customers, if applicable. Make sure it’s not better than the offer you extend to show attendees. You want to make those who attended feel like they got the very best deal available!
– Send a personalized follow up email inviting attendees to take online actions like following you on social media, subscribing to your enews, or downloading a free ebook related to your business. You want to start building a relationship so make sure your email provides value and is not too sales-y.
– Write a blog about the trade show experience. Make sure you include great photos, and shout outs to the host, sponsors, staff, and attendees.
3 Months Later
Now is the time to measure the successfulness of the trade show and your pre and post-show campaigns. Without measurement, you’ll never know if the show was successful. Here are some important numbers to research: Show Attendees vs. Booth Visitors; Leads Received; Number of Offers Claimed; Trade Show Status Social Media Likes, Shares, and Comments; Blog Views and Comments; and Information Requests. Once you know your numbers, don’t forget to share them with all of the staff members involved in the trade show. Ask for feedback and evaluate to see if the same show is worth doing again the following year.
Maximizing your trade show results may take time, but the effort really will pay off in the end. With so many qualified leads under one roof, you want to make sure you put your best marketing foot forward. Plan for your next trade show by giving us a call today at 717-731-9456.