30 Mar Trade Show Marketing 101
First of all, why Trade Shows?
Well they help you generate more leads in one day than you might in two months.
They help enhance relationships with customers and prospects you already have.
They give you extremely valuable one on one face-time with a big chunk of your target market in the shortest amount of time, and they help build your brand!
Trade Shows are almost like a “secret” gold mine that a lot of people don’t realize the enormous amounts of benefits that can come along with them.
However, in order to get the most bang for your buck, your marketing skills (before, during, and after the show), have to be on point.
Therefore for all of the beginners out there here is a little bit of Trade Show Marketing 101. The basics that you need to know in order to get on the right track.
It is extremely important to know that if you are planning on attending a trade show, you plan at least a year in advance for it.
There is more to it than just setting up a booth and hoping you get people to stop by. There is a lot that goes in to planning for a show.
You need to pick the right show where a large chunk of your target market will be attending.
Then, you need to figure out if the location is affordable to send several employees there for a couple days along with transportation and hotel costs.
Plus, now a days trade shows are so extravagant that there is no way you will last with an ordinary booth. It should be eye catching, simple, convenient, and thoughtfully planned out.
You might also ask, what is the purpose of you going? What are your goals for the show? How much will it cost? Can you afford it? Etc. etc.
All of these questions need to be answered before you truly dive in.
Now once you get all of that carried away, and you have everything set for the show, (that is still not for a few months), then the marketing planning begins. People need to know you’re going to be there if you want them to show up, am I right?
Develop a Marketing Plan
Clearly define what goals you want to reach when you get there. How many leads? What about sales? Do you have a set target market already in place?
Once that is all covered begin strategizing. All the way from advertising before the show, advertising during the show, and even what you plan on doing after.
How do you want to reach your target market in order to let them know you will be there. Start with this on social media and any other choice of advertising you choose to do at least a month in advance. That way it gives people a chance to get to know you, if they don’t already, and give them time to sign up for the event.
It is also great to take a look at the prior year’s list of attendees to get an idea of who is going to be there.
If you happen to get a hold of any of their contact information, send them a note about your company attending and how you would like to meet, (at least a week in advance).
Last but not least, plan out your sales pitch. As well as, what kind of tabling material you want to have.
This should be done at least 3 months in advance in order to have all of the material finished on time. This includes things such as brochures, business cards, fliers, posters, even if you want to hold any contests or sweepstakes. Will you be doing any sales promotions as well? (Highly suggested).
Not only is the documentation important to have, but what type of team will be manning the booth? Carefully plan out who would be the best team to assemble in order to accomplish your goals, and why you think they would be. Plus, it is smart to think of any back ups in case a team member can no longer attend the event.
Once you know what show you are attending, it is best to immediately start planning the rest. It is never too early to start, especially if it is your first one.
After the marketing plan is developed for the show, then comes the marketing strategy at the time of the event. This is probably the most exciting phase since you will need to get really creative in order to stand out amongst your competitors.
As I just mentioned, this includes any documents you would like to pass out to clients, any contests/sweepstakes, sales/promos, signs even possible snacks
A popular thing to note that some companies have been doing at events is showing live feed of their social media content. Just about every company there has their own hashtag and social media campaign in place 2 weeks before the show up until the week following it.
Which then brings us to the marketing involved post show.
Not only is this a great time to discover more prospects you can reach out to who you did not get a chance to meet at the show (by using the event’s attendees database), but it is great to see how it affected your social media presence as well.
A trade show is a great way to reach a big group of customers all at once, but it is also super easy to get people to talk about your product online.
You can research your hashtags and find new prospects who tweeted about you, just by using your chosen hashtag you used at the event. How cool is that?
Last but not least…finish what you started
Take everything you learned from the show and compile it into a bunch of data.
If you are happy with the results, start planning for next year.
Look at how many people you reached while you were at the show. As well as before and after.
Take notice of how many leads, prospects, and customers you gained from attending.
If the numbers are appealing, why not do it again? Maybe even attend several other events if your budget allows?
It’s amazing what a 1-4 day event can do for you if you play your cards right.