1. Go big or go home.
You might think that giving away just anything with your company’s name on it is enough of a freebie. However, if the only marketing collateral you can afford is something that will break the second time your client uses it, save the money and buy coffee for your staff on the day of the show instead.
Instead of a cheap freebie consider giving clients a “show” price on products or services, a coupon for their next purchase—along with a pen—or some other durable, but inexpensive marketing item. Sure, it’s not the most original idea, but it’s better than a shattered trinket. If you can afford a nice giveaway item, think about how long someone will hang on to the promotional piece and consider wear and tear before making your selection. If you have a more formal brand you should stay formal with your giveaway and messaging. If you have a playful brand or if you are edgy, then show it.
2. Stick to the program.
Giveaways are a great idea, but if they have nothing to do with your company or your message you’re not going to attract the right people to your booth. Sure, giving away a cool piece of tech will get visitors, but do they have any real interest in your product? Probably not. So what can you do? Look to tie your giveaway into something related to your company. For example, if your company supports the local community then giving away donations to local charity organizations—not only tying back to your company but also helping the community in which you reside.
3. Who’s that guy?
Guest speakers are great to bring attention to your booth but won’t do much if they don’t tie their presentation back to your product, service benefits, or booth theme. Instead of just grabbing anyone with a big name consider having a knowledgeable speaker in your industry or someone who can help improve your customer’s productivity at work. It is great to have someone who can draw a crowd but they should also be able to draw the right crowd and give them a message that is relevant to your brand.
Before the show you’ll want to remember to set up a social media hashtag for your show communications. Include that hashtag on all of your marketing materials regarding trade shows you participate in, and include it in your tagline. Don’t forget to remind booth guests to tag their photos on THEIR social media to extend your reach.
5. Don’t wait till the last minute!
You’ll want to reach out to your followers at least one month before your show so that they keep the upcoming event in mind. Waiting until the last minute is guaranteed to result in a less than stellar attendance rate. You should ideally send at least 3 communications before the show via your different channels. We recommend you focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. However, depending on the nature of your product you may also want to do Pinterest.
6. What are you saying?
Before the show starts people should have a reason for visiting your booth. By making sure that you have a key message that is consistent across all your communications—pre-show promotion, industry advertising, event or trade show signage and publications and exhibit signage—you ensure that people understand what you’re coming to show them. Do you have anything new to share? Maybe a newer product or service? Will you be providing demos or training in your booth? Will there be hands-on opportunities with product or face-to-face opportunities with key company representatives? Whatever your key message; make sure potential attendees know about it.
7. What do you do, again?
Not providing clients with a benefit statement or content that will help make their job easier or inform them why they should consider your product or service can make all of your hard work for not. It is surprising to see how often you get a promotional email or postcard and have a hard time figuring out what they do. While some large companies may be able to leverage past communications and rely on their brand equity—Coca Cola for example—in general, most companies should say what they do and their product/service or organization’s benefits.
8. Don’t forget your home team!
Just because a client is already familiar with your company doesn’t mean you should skip over the invite to your show! You may assume that they already know about the show or that whether or not you send an invitation will not make a difference. However, they are more likely to attend and visit you if you send them a personalized invitation. Remember, they are busy and although they may have attended, or not, in the past you want to stay on their list of companies to consider.
9. Spelling Counts!
Proofreading your marketing materials is absolutely key. Email promotions with bad hyperlinks, art that doesn’t display, bad redirects, or high SPAM scores are all mistakes that not only make your company look bad, but also fails to get your message across. Email promotions with high SPAM scores will go directly to recipient’s SPAM folders or can’t get through their firewall. Work with your e-marketing or IT specialists to make sure your email promotions have the best chance of making it to their intended recipients.
10. Practice Makes Perfect!
Training your staff well before the event about the purpose of your promotion and how to stick to your marketing message is absolutely vital to ensuring a successful trade show experience.
Whatever you choose to do to draw customers to your trade show or event, be sure to always think of how it will affect your company perception in the long run, as well as your ability to get new leads.
Do you have a great way to do pre, at, or post-show promotions? Do you have recommendations of what not to do? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.