Effective trade show marketing begins months before an event. Exhibitors who wait until the last few weeks before informing their customers cannot fully leverage one of the most cost-effective marketing channels at their disposal. Fortunately, by starting their marketing efforts early, they can get the word out and build enormous momentum leading up to the show.
Outsourcing key tasks to trade show vendors, mailing your customers, and sending press releases are important components of your pre-trade show marketing plan. Here’s a 6-step system for getting the most from your trade show investment.
Step #1: Formulate Your Strategy
Trade shows represent one segment of your company’s marketing strategy. The first step is to design your trade show marketing plan to fit cohesively within that strategy. Identify the objectives you’d like to accomplish. Are you trying to build word-of-mouth buzz about an upcoming product launch? Is your company trying to build a larger presence within a specific market? Do you need to solidify relationships with your customer base? Your trade show marketing efforts must be consistent with your company’s strategic vision.
Step #2: Formulate Your Tactical Plan
Once you’ve planned your strategy, you need to identify the marketing tactics that will help you achieve your goals for the show. That might include investing in promotional giveaways, trade show attractions that build traffic to your booth, and reaching out to other trade show vendors. Think of each marketing tactic as an individual spoke on a wheel. Together, they support each other, creating a synergistic strength in your overall plan.
Step #3: Start The Buzz Early
Buzz marketing starts at a grassroots level and builds momentum through word-of-mouth. Its strength lies in the nature in which it grows. Once you plant the seeds, the buzz spreads as people interact with one another. Before long, small ripples of exposure turn into larger waves.
You can plant the seeds by issuing press releases, writing editorials for an industry trade magazine, or through a savvy advertising campaign. If you’re unsure regarding how to approach these strategies, you can contract trade show vendors who have experience with public relations and trade show advertising.
Step #4: Mail Your Customers
Your customers represent one of your most valuable resources for increasing the ROI of your trade show efforts. By keeping them informed about an upcoming event, you can draw them to your booth. Plan a mailing schedule through which you send postcards, newsletters, brochures, tri-fold mailers, and other marketing materials that not only inform them, but remind them as the trade show grows closer. Each piece should emphasize the benefits of visiting your exhibit.
Step #5: Hold A Contest
Organizing a tradeshow contest is a fantastic way to start the buzz about your exhibit at an upcoming trade show. It builds excitement in your customer list, especially if the prize is relevant to your company’s products. Scratch cards are popular because they’re simple, cost-effective, and can be mailed out to your customers weeks before the show. Plus, by telling your customers that they must visit your exhibit in order to claim their prizes, there’s an automatic traffic-building component.
Step #6: Send Out Press Releases
Press releases are a potent marketing tool for generating traffic to your trade show exhibits. By sending them to trade magazines, local newspapers, and other publications, you can generate inquiries from the media as well as potential customers. There are always newsworthy items that you can use as the basis of your press releases. If you have never written one, you can hire trade show vendors who specialize in creating media kits and other PR materials.
Planning A Blockbuster Trade Show Event
Pre-trade show marketing begins with formulating your strategy and designing your tactical approach. Then, it’s a matter of planting the seeds for word-of-mouth buzz, building momentum, and getting your customers excited about the event. From organizing contests to creating press releases, scheduling direct mail to designing advertising campaigns, there are dozens of marketing opportunities to take advantage of. Consider using a trade show marketing checklist to keep track of the details. And don’t underestimate the value of hiring trade show vendors to handle the tasks for which you lack time or expertise. They can help ensure that your next trade show event is a blockbuster.
Jonathan Edelman provides helpful advice about trade show strategies. With years of experience in the trenches, he is an expert on booth displays, follow up techniques, and using trade show marketing strategies to boost revenue.