It's easy to get caught up in the logistics, such as booth design, staffing, and demos, when trade show planning. We put all our efforts towards ensuring we are prepared when the trade show day comes.
However, many companies make the mistake of waiting until the day of the trade show to begin promoting themselves, missing out on valuable opportunities to engage with prospects, deepen relationships with current customers, and build buzz around their brand leading up to the big trade show.
We assume, and hope, that enough people will stop by the booth once the trade show starts. But when we look at statistics that show 89% of trade show attendees are decision-makers, this is not a time we want to rely on hope.
So why is promotion before an trade show so important? A study by Exhibitor shows that companies who conducted pre-trade show promotion saw:
A pre-show promotions strategy can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. With so many companies vying for the attention of attendees, it's essential to make a strong impression early on. By starting your promotions ahead of time, you'll have the chance to build excitement and anticipation for your presence at the trade show, increasing the likelihood that attendees will seek you out once they arrive. It is also important to remember that pre-trade show promotions are not only to attract new customers but also to show your current customers that you value their business and to thank them for their loyalty.
Whether your trade show participation is for brand awareness, to capture leads, relationship building, or anything else, trade show planning and your event marketing strategy are extremely important.
Now that we have established the importance of pre show marketing initiatives, let's break down the mix of strategies to make your next trade show successful.
Utilize Social Media
Creating a social media strategy that focuses on your trade show goals and the target audience you want to reach is essential for success. Social media is a great place to let your followers know you'll be at the trade show and to create buzz around your upcoming exhibit. Remember to conduct some market research and tailor your messaging to the potential customers that you expect to be attending the show. If you will hold in-person demos at the trade show, this is a great way to start booking those beforehand. Use trade show-specific hashtags on your posts to gain more visibility with audiences attending the event that might not follow you yet.
Social media content ideas:
- Promote any speaking sessions you will be conducting
- Drive pre-trade show in-person demo booking
- Offer exclusive materials for those who visit your booth (exclusivity always drives demand)
- Promote any giveaways that you'll have at your booth
Bonus tip: Write a few social posts promoting your sponsorship and booth to give employees so that they can help spread the buzz and reach more people.
An email campaign is a great way to let current customers know you will be exhibiting at an trade show. Show your appreciation for their loyalty by offering them free entry passes or getting a special gift to hold for them at the booth.
To get in front of attendees, you can pay to send a pre-trade show promotion email to all registered attendees to attract visitors to your display booth. Be sure to include any special events, promotions, speaking sessions, and the location of your booth at the show. Also, we recommend having the email link to a landing page where they can find your trade show sponsorship details.
Bonus tip: Invite your clients that live near the trade show city to stop by for a client event or to pick up a gift. Most shows will provide a code to register customers to access the trade show exhibit hall for free.
Another great strategy to add to you trade show planning list is to create a trade show-specific landing page to direct your social media posts and email traffic. By creating a landing page specific to your trade show, you can answer questions related to event information and create opportunities for particular trade show conversions.
On your landing page, you should include the following:
- Trade Show Information (Date, Location)
- Location on the show floor and booth number
- Incentives and promotions to draw people to the booth. These can include giveaways, product discounts, personalized demos, and more.
- Speaking sessions your company is leading
- Form to collect contact information. (Book an in-person demo, book a product trial, register for a free workbook)
Bonus tip: Adding a banner or pop-up leading to the landing page is an easy way to get in front of those website visitors.
Add Account Based Marketing (ABM) To Your Trade Show Marketing Plan
ABM is a focused strategy where marketing and sales align to target and sell to the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Adding ABM to your event marketing and sales strategy ensures that marketing supports engagement with target accounts and leads the sales team is already working on. You can read our blog to learn more about how to get started with ABM at your events.
Prepare A Trade Show Takeaway Guide
Attendees will encounter many brands at trade shows, so leaving a lasting impression is essential. That is why we suggest creating a trade show takeaway guide. Instead of following up with your leads with a generic post-event email, the trade show takeaway guide gives your sales reps a valuable asset to use to engage with their leads. It is important to prepare what you want to include in your guide ahead of time to have a clear plan for collecting the data on the event day. This is a great item to add to your trade show planning!
A few things that this guide can include are:
- Survey responses about industry-relevant information. This can include industry trends, buyer data, and any other information your customers would like. To collect this information, have one of your reps ask exhibitors and attendees to complete a short survey.
- Private interviews with key speakers. There are always many fantastic speakers at trade shows, but everyone in attendance hears the same speech. To get exclusive insights from an industry professional, set up private interviews with a few industry-relevant speakers to get their take on something specific. These can be quick 5-minute interviews but can provide you with exclusive information from an industry expert.
- Trends that your team saw at the trade show. Were there any new technologies that surprised you? Notice any crazy booth designs that made an impact?
- Resources. This is where you will want to provide links to any speaking sessions or materials you promoted at the event.
Scheduling Your Promotions
We recommend promoting your attendance at trade shows 2-3 months in advance. (This doesn't mean you should start your trade show planning 2-3 months in advance, this is when it should start running.) This will give you enough time to plan and execute your promotional activities without blowing up your marketing within two weeks of the upcoming trade show. Here is an example timeline.
2-3 Months From the Trade Show
- Have a landing page created
- Announce your attendance on social media
- Send an email inviting current clients to visit your booth at the event
1 Month From the Event
- Provide details on your exhibit, including your trade show booth number and your planned activities during the show
- Encourage attendees to book an in-person demo or consultation
- Remind clients that you will be exhibiting + invite them to a client event
2 Weeks From the Event
- Post teasers for new product launches, giveaways, or exhibit designs
- If offered, send an email to event attendees
- Stay connected to the event's social conversation by following the hashtag and posting weekly
Week of the Event
- Push a final call to book an in-person demo or consultation
- Promote your trade show booth
- Post-specific event information, including booth numbers, expo floor maps, and speaking sessions.
Other Trade Show Marketing To Plan For
- Order your promotional items with plenty of time to avoid rush fees. If you're traveling and don't want to bring them with you, ship them to the hotel you are staying at! Make sure to call the hotel and give them a heads up.
- Print off any marketing collateral ahead of time. This helps to avoid Office Depot runs when you're trying to get set up for the trade show.
- Plan training sessions for you booth reps before the event. This training should include booth etiquette, trade show goals, and how to use the lead capture solution.
Trade show planning is an essential component of any successful trade show strategy. By building anticipation, driving traffic, and standing out from the competition, you can maximize the impact of your participation in the event and achieve stronger business results.