Business Trade Shows Part I: Before the Event
Going to a trade show for the first time? I don't know if that's what this group above is gearing up for, but they're sure happy about what's on that paper.
In any case, don't make the mistake of viewing your first trade show as a 1-2 day discreet marketing event. Instead, view your exhibit at a trade show as the central feature of a much longer and holistic marketing plan that builds to the event, and then culminates in the successful post-show follow up that signs on new customers. We all know that 80% of new business marketing requires at least 5 touches. In the next few posts, we're start a series that will break down the trade show marketing plan into three bite size pieces. Today, the pre-show build up.
The goal of your pre-show marketing is to attract visitors to your booth at the show. You want them to know about all about you before they take that first walk around the exhibit hall.
- Take advantage of all the marketing opportunities that the show planner offers. This may include access to an attendees list. If so, use this to send out a few introductory emails prior to the show including your booth number. Send one the day of the show reminding the reader where you are, and perhaps one about 1/2 way through the show for those stragglers that showed up late. Sometimes, ingratiating yourself to someone that is a little embarrassed at being late can make all the difference.
- Sponsorship's are also an opportunity, if your budget allows it. This can be a small ad in the program or sponsoring an event or get-together during the conference. This is a bigger step and may be beyond the budget of many SMBs. Some conferences offer workshops with 'captive audiences' - but be careful to prepare engaging content, you don't want to bore your captive audience..
- Social Media: Use social media to introduce yourself before the show. This means an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Send a brief announcement of who you are, that you will be exhibiting at the show, and then a reminder the day of the show or the day before. Name recognition is going to be key when attendees enter the show floor, as they're likely going to be overwhelmed.
- Website and blog: Post an invitation to the show on your website and your blog. This should go up about one week prior the to event.
- Giveaways: sometimes, a simple gift can be a fantastic lead in to a larger sale. It helps to have some basic merch, like pens, notepads, etc with your company logo. Larger ticket items, like a free entry level product or an hour of a consultants time, can draw crowds. Promote whatever you're giving away in your emails, social media campaigns, or outbound calls.
These are just a few simple steps you can take to build momentum before the actual exhibition. Next blog, we’ll talk about marketing during the show.
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