How to Build an Effective Trade Show Marketing Strategy
Trade shows allow you to generate excitement about your brand and upcoming products or services before, during and after the event. If you are going to compete with the myriad of booths on the floor, you need to go above and beyond to stand out and make a lasting impression.
Trade shows have a built-in B2B platform that puts you in direct touch with potential customers, investors and partners. Therefore, you need an effective marketing strategy combined with a solid plan leading up to the show. Below, we look at how to build an effective trade show marketing strategy.
The Planning Phase
Ninety percent of the work involved in trade shows happens during the planning phase. You sohould spend months (not weeks) putting a game plan into action, creating brand awareness and making sure your products and services are up to par. Here are some steps to take during the planning phase:
1. Set Your Goals
Two questions you should ask yourself when planning for your trade show is, “Why is my company attending, and what do we hope to achieve?” Clarifying your objectives and setting your goals will keep your team on track throughout the planning process. Make sure your goals are manageable and measurable.
2. Know Your Target Audience and Reach Out
Unless your product reaches a broad market, not everyone that walks by your exhibit is a target demographic. Therefore, you need to identify your target audience and put all of your effort into reaching your buyer personas. Knowing your audience can also help you pick the right trade shows to attend.
3. Take Inventory of Trade Show Materials
Few things are as annoying for an exhibitor as showing up for the trade show to discover that they don’t have enough supplies or products or that they are missing a key component of their exhibit. Follow pre-show procedures like itemizing your contents, setting up your booth before you leave, knowing the facilities in advance and understanding the rules of the event to avoid these mistakes.
4. Scheduling Key Connections
There may be some specific people you may want to connect with before, during or after the event. If so, try to schedule these meetings during after-hours times. If possible, try to pick meeting spots that are convenient and not too crowded. You are more likely to get a personal audience by scheduling in advance rather than waiting until you get to the trade show.
5. Look for Speaking Opportunities
One of the most powerful forms of marketing are opportunities to become an influencer in your industry. Thoughtful leadership can generate significant revenue in environments like trade shows where the appetite for enrichment already exists. Therefore, you should look for speaking opportunities that give your company more visibility.
The Execution Phase
Like any other form of marketing, trade shows are all about attracting and converting new, potential customers. Therefore, the more attendees you can attract to your exhibit, the more leads you can follow-up with after the event. If you want to add more value to your company during the show, then consider these three ideas:
1. Give People a Reason to Stop by Your Exhibit
Your booth must have a healthy balance of useful resources or information and eye-catching attractions that reflect your brand. Also, your booth must be engaging. Some ways to attract people to your exhibit may include:
- Offer free Wi-Fi to win over the crowd.
- Engage attendees in a game or activity.
- Make sure your print media is high definition and highly professional.
- Enhance any presentation with a digital background screen.
- Provide an item that everyone uses.
2. Be Engaging and Personal
Regardless of how professional or technically savvy your booth is, nothing can replace a friendly smile, attentive ear and warm, personal touch. Try to engage people, answer questions, address concerns and solve problems. Focus on talking to people on a first name basis and be courteous at all times.
It is important to remember that you are an ambassador for your company. Therefore, every action you take will reflect your company’s reputation. The friendlier and more knowledgeable you are, the more you garner the respect and trust of potential clients. Keep in mind that your job is not to sell products as much as it is to foster new, long-term relationships.
3. Give Potential Clients Something to Remember Your Company
Two emerging trends for 2020 demonstrate that clients want products that will inspire them to take action, trigger their emotions and instill a sense of brand loyalty. What they are avoiding are the useless trinkets that simply contain a logo. Therefore, you will need to put some thought into what you hand out at the trade show while still staying within your budget.
Some of the most popular trade show items that are trending in 2020 include:
- Blue light glasses
- Screen cleaning spray and microfiber cloth
- Webcam cover
- Reusable metal straw
- Business card holder
If you are looking for contest giveaways or want to make an impression with certain exhibit visitors, then you may want to consider an earphone cord wrap, tumbler, Bluetooth speaker, stylus pen, LED key light or a power bank.
The Follow-Up Phase
There are several ways that you can evaluate the success of a trade show. For most companies, it comes down to the number of leads that the booth generates during the show. What’s more important is converting your leads into customers. The best way to do this is with an effective follow-up strategy.
Contact Your Leads
In most cases, your follow up will include some type of direct communication, such as a phone call, email or instant message. If possible, try to reach out to your leads a day or two after the trade show. Remember: timing is everything. You want to give your leads some time to get home after the show. However, you also want to make an impression while you are still fresh in their minds. Try to avoid sending your emails over the weekend.
Start with your hottest leads and work your way down. Start with a short email that reminds the reader who you are, what you can do for them and what they need to do next (call-to-action).
Regroup with Your Team
The first week or two after a trade show allows you to energize your marketing team. If possible, call a meeting and share your insights with the rest of the team. You may also want to use this time to assess the overall performance of your exhibit. Some questions you may want to discuss in your post-show meeting may include:
- Was the trade show exhibit worth the cost?
- How did you measure up to your competing exhibitors?
- How effective was your marketing strategy and message?
- How well did the staff perform?
- How well did your team interact with clients/prospects?
- Were the leads warm or cold?
- How can the team improve the exhibit in the future?
Also, you need to develop some type of follow-up plan for your leads over the next few weeks.
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