As a small- or medium-sized business, your marketing department has their work cut out for them, and never more so than prior to a trade show. Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants is not an effective strategy and will likely return very little in the way of new contacts or product sales after an exhibition. So what’s your plan?
Your first step should always be to plan for the event as far in advance as possible. This gives your marketing team ample time to prepare for a long-term, focused, electronic approach to your participation. You don’t want to waste the team’s efforts on spamming a lot of unnecessary media or potential clientele – be particular about to whom your emails are sent. Announce the trade show participation well in advance, but don’t inundate email recipients with lots of unnecessary and unimportant details just to get your company name in their minds. You’ll likely end up being sent to the spam box and giving these folks a reason not to attend the show or at least your booth.
You’ve researched the exhibition’s attendees in the past, so which part of that population is your target? Creative marketers can come up with lots of ways their product fits any target, and that may be a good thing for a broader marketing campaign. But you have a limited amount of time, space, and potential customers at a trade show. Be specific. Once you’ve identified your target population, consider push notifications for attendees with incentives for stopping at your booth. Many of these real-time notices are ignored during events, but with legitimate incentives, you could see an increase in traffic flow to your booth. But again, you must be specific. Plan your target population well in advance, create the notices ahead of time, and schedule them for the duration of the event.
With the larger trade shows, the media is your ticket to attention and eventually sales, but how do you compete with companies whose name recognition alone gets them all the media attention? Targeting specific journalists and news outlets ahead of time with well-written, to-the-point, and engaging press releases and emails is key. You know they’ll be overwhelmed with this kind of correspondence the closer you get to the event, so plan it months ahead and set up appointments in advance of the event to actually get in front of a person to sell your participation at the event as something to which they’ll want to pay attention.
The work you do in advance of the trade show is just as crucial as your performance once you’re there. Don’t let it slip: plan specifically, measurably, and well in advance of the event and you’ll have a sleek, well-promoted experience.