Trade shows can bring your business a lot of benefits, including lead generation, brand recognition, and cost-effective advertising.
But only if you do it right.
Without trade show marketing leading up to the event, you won’t walk away with the results you wanted. And you need to get started long before the trade show date gets close.
Not sure where to begin?
Take a look at these pre-show marketing tips to help make your event successful.
Find Your “Why” and Set Goals
If you don’t set clear, attainable goals for your trade show, your marketing attempts—and the entire event—might not go as well as you’d hoped. How can you get the results you want if you don’t know what those are?
So the first step of trade show marketing is finding your “why” and setting goals.
Figure out exactly why you are exhibiting at this trade show. Exhibiting at a trade show is no small expense, especially at larger events. Think of the long term planning as well as the costs of the booth and space itself. Will it be worth the investment in the long run? Once you discover the reason for having your company represented at a trade show or convention, it’s time to set clear goals.
Make these goals specific.
For example, instead of saying you want to generate new leads, write down exactly how many you want, how you plan to get them, and how to follow up with them after the trade show.
This will direct your marketing efforts and set you up for success.
Design Your Message
You need to create a compelling and clear CTA before you set up your booth day-of. Otherwise, your potential leads might fall through the cracks. Even if they like your product, they won’t know how to contact you, how to buy it, or what else they should do.
Before you start marketing, design your trade show booth and message.
How will the attendees remember you? How will you stand out from the crowd? How will you represent your brand?
Answer these questions first. They might help narrow down your marketing strategy.
Start Planning Several Months in Advance
Give yourself plenty of time to plan and run marketing strategies before the trade show.
It’s a good idea to start planning 12 months in advance. But if you can’t make this timeline work for your business, give yourself at least six months to get ready before the trade show.
Don’t wait any longer than this. If you do, you’ll end up rushing through marketing techniques, run out of time to use them effectively, and not get the results you want.
Also, it is good to build in extra time in your planning timeline to account for any setbacks you may have. There are many things that may go wrong along the way. Being prepared for worst-case scenarios will cause less stress and less last minute decisions in the event something does happen.
Pick Your Marketing Methods
One marketing campaign isn’t enough to gain attention for your trade show. Instead, you should choose multiple different methods and use them all.
Different marketing strategies will allow you to reach different audiences on different platforms. Multiple marketing campaigns are always better than one, even if that one is seemingly perfect. Having multiple marketing strategies also allows you to hit your target audience multiple times, perhaps making you stand out and be more memorable.
Here are eight types of pre-trade show marketing techniques you should consider.
1. Build a List of Outreach Contacts
Start your marketing by creating a list of contacts for outreach. These contacts can consist of your current customers, known prospects, and other contacts.
Let these people know you’re going to be at the event. But don’t stop there. You should also build up the trade show itself. This can encourage people to go if they weren’t planning on it originally.
This will also ensure you have as many potential clients and customers there as possible.
You can also build a list of registered attendees. Since they’re already going to the trade show, let them know you’ll be there and where they can find you.
2. Promote on Social Media
Nearly 80% of people in the United States have at least one social media profile. Many of them have several. Odds are that’s also where most of your audience is, so it’s the perfect place to promote the event.
There are a few different ways you can do this.
You can post about the trade show on your social media accounts. Let your audience know what it’s all about and that you’ll be going. Inform them where exactly they can find you on the trade show floor.
Also, if you have any incentives, giveaways, or games planned, be sure to note this in your posts as well. It can build up excitement and give attendees more of a reason to stop by and visit your booth.
You can also make short videos to catch their interest.
Videos are a more exciting and interactive way to deliver your message and will also be more memorable for your audience.
But don’t rely on your posts alone.
Create some targeted social media ads as well. These ads can get clicks from a much larger audience. With targeted social media ads, such as on Facebook, you can choose the demographics, age, gender, work, education, etc. of who you want to reach with your posts.
This ensures that you are reaching exactly who you need to with your messaging.
3. Launch an Email Campaign
Launching an email campaign is a quick, cheap, and effective way to market for an upcoming trade show.
It also gives you a way to track how much engagement your emails are getting. By looking at click-through rates and open rates, you can get a good idea of how many people are interested in the event.
Your email campaign should consist of several different emails. To begin with, you should send an introductory email about the trade show to let people know that you’ll be attending.
Depending on who you are targeting with these emails, there is a chance they may not be knowledgeable about the event. Provide them with a brief summary and information about what they can expect from your company if they attend.
After that, you’ll have to send follow up emails to remind them (we’ll touch more on that below).
4. Harness the Power of SEO
Don’t forget to use the power of SEO in whichever marketing strategy you choose.
For example, create a sharable blog post on your website announcing that you will be exhibiting at the trade show. Be sure to find the right keyword density, write attention-grabbing headers, and use appropriate images. Also, make sure the page is SEO optimized in terms of titles, length, linking, etc.
When using Google Ads, they won’t be very effective if you don’t know what type of trade show keywords people are searching for.
Do your research.
Find out what it is people are searching for, and make sure your ads and campaigns are all SEO optimized to meet the needs of what your audience is searching for.
5. Send Direct Mail
While direct mail marketing may not be as common as email marketing, it’s far from dead. In fact, sending direct mail to your contacts can be an effective way to make them aware of your event.
By sending something like a postcard—especially one in an interesting shape, you put the trade show on people’s minds long before it happens. But not only that, the postcard stays in their house. That means, depending on where they keep it, they’ll see it every day.
This not only reminds them of the event, but it can also build excitement.
While this is a good strategy for anyone, it works best for people you already know will be attending the event. So find that list you made of the trade show register attendees and send them some direct mail.
6. Use Targeted Marketing Methods
There are a few, more targeted marketing methods you can also use when it comes to trade shows.
For example, you can work with the trade show managers to get discounted registration fees or free passes. You can then offer these to your customers to help encourage them to show up.
Save these for people you know will be high-potential visitors. Then, if you can, set up appointments for these people during the trade show. You can even set up a smaller event for your customers during the trade show itself.
Let yourself get creative with targeted marketing approaches.
7. Build a Landing Page
You may want to consider building a trade show landing page. Make sure this page includes your CTA and more information about the event. You may also want to include extra resources your customers might find helpful.
Most importantly, like in any email marketing you may do, state where your booth or display will be located at the event. This makes it easy for those who are interested to find you during the show. You want to make it easy as possible for potential clients to find you, or they won’t bother to go out of their way at all.
If you do choose to create a landing page, don’t forget to make the landing page mobile-friendly.
After all, almost 60% of all internet searches come from mobile phones. If your content isn’t responsive, you might lose a potential client.
8. Follow up with People
Remember when we said you would have to follow up with people as part of your marketing campaign? Don’t forget this step! Otherwise, people who were planning to go might forget and not make it.
So here’s what you need to do.
- Three Months Before the Trade Show
Email your contacts a “save the date” notice. Make sure you include your booth number and any incentives in this email.
- One Month Before the Trade Show
Create some social media posts that have the date and your booth number. If you’ll be using any hashtags during the event, include these in the posts as well.
- Three Weeks Before the Trade Show
Send out another email with all the information your guests will need to know. This includes things like your booth number, promotional giveaways, CTAs, and more.
- One Week Before the Trade Show
Make several social media posts about the trade show to keep people updated. You can post about your booth number, other highlights about the show, information about the surrounding area, trade show tips, and giveaways.
- The Last Days Before the Trade Show
Use your social media to post pictures of you traveling to the event. Take pictures of you setting up your booth, and create “almost time” pictures to share.
Set a Marketing Budget
Before you get carried away with these pre-trade show marketing strategies, make sure you set a marketing budget. If you don’t, the costs can add up fast.
Picking the Best Trade Show Marketing Tips
If you don’t take the time to do some pre-show marketing before your event, you won’t get the results you want. Trade show marketing is one of the most important parts of your event, so don’t forget to start early!
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