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Trade Show Marketing: Three Keys to Success

Like any marketing program, finding success exhibiting at trade shows requires planning and follow-through. Thinking of your trade show plan as a three part strategy can help you develop your plan and ensure effective execution by your team. The three key strategy components are:

  • Pre-Show Promotion
  • Booth Prizes
  • Post-Show Communication

Pre-Show Promotion

Trade Shows are a great opportunity for face-to-face interaction with current and potential customers. Your pre-show promotion needs to let them know you are exhibiting, where you will be on the show floor and give them a reason to stop by your booth. Many show attendees make a list of booths they plan to visit before the show, making this a critical first step to getting the most from your participation in a trade show.

Holding a drawing for a prize with a high perceived value is a great way to motivate attendees to visit your booth. You’ll get some people visiting only for the prize, but most of them are at the conference to learn and will give you a chance to tell them what your organization has to offer.

When the attendee is at your booth, it’s important that your team:

  1. Deliver their short pitch and make sure the attendee is entered for the prize
  2. Capture contact information for a second chance drawing for any prizes not collected at the show

Are you or your boss concerned that “everyone will have a drawing?” Don’t be. The reason so many exhibitors use this technique is simple. It works.

Prizes & Take-Away Items

Not everyone is going to win a drawing prize, so consider having secondary prizes or a few products that you can give to all attendees who stop by your booth.

These products don’t need to be expensive. You just want to pick things that people will keep and use at work or at home. If there is a theme for the show, you might consider tying into that as well. Some popular promotional items include:

  1. Desktop toys. While we all want to be taken seriously, many of us also have desktop items that provide a quick, refreshing break from the seriousness of the work day. Small puzzles or similar “toys” can be a great way to keep your brand in front of your customer or prospect.
  2. Custom Phone Skins. Cell phones have become a fixture in our lives. We use them at work, at home and at play. Custom covers offer a way for your customers or prospects to individualize their device while keep your brand top of mind.
  3. Another cool cell phone accessory is a mobile card pocket. The pocket is affixed to the back of a device and can hold a credit or debit card and ID. Perfect for when your customer doesn’t want to carry a thick wallet or cumbersome purse. Decorated with your brand, you’ll enjoy a lot of valuable impressions with the recipient and their friends.

If you’re at a trade show where your key customers or prospects are attending, you have another opportunity to build your relationship with them. Have useful, personalized promotional gifts “under the table” specifically for your high-value customers and prospects. You’ll help develop your relationship with them and enjoy an implied endorsement when they show off the gift or talk about you in the future.

Post-Show Communication

After the show is over, there is still work to be done. You need to follow up with attendees who visited your booth and gave you their contact information.

  1. Send an email to thank them for stopping by. If you gave a presentation at the show, offer them a free download or access to a video of your presentation. Based on the number of people who unsubscribe from your email, you’ll know who was interested in your company and who simply wanted the prize!
  2. For those that do not unsubscribe, develop a lead nurture campaign. This will keep you top of mind and keep the leads warm until sales can reach out to them directly.
  3. Sales should follow up personally, especially with attendees they spoke with at the show.

Trade shows can be a significant sales and marketing investment. They are also a tremendous opportunity to connect with your customers and potential customers in person while building your own brand reputation in the market. A little thought and planning can make all the difference toward a successful trade show experience for your company.

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