Trade show season is upon us as thousands of people gather together to see the latest technologies, widgets and offerings. Vendors compete for attention with giveaways, models, product demonstrations and discounts. When you walk into the show expo floor, you are bombarded with lights, sounds and imagery. To compound the issue, vendors are forced to up the budget to offer the proverbial “more” to attract customers. But to what end? What is the effectiveness of it all? Now a trade show marketing strategy should become a priority to get a jump on the competition.
The Best Trade Show Marketing Strategy
Sometimes the answer may be very little to none. Many times exhibitors use a tradeshow for credibility as well as proof of life. If a vendor skips a show there may be questions about if they are still in business. If you are a newer company, or have a new product offering, a tradeshow offers some credibility by appearing in a common space. I’m not saying that they do not have a place. However, my hope is that if you are spending the money and time to go to the show, set up, and exhibit, let’s make sure you leave an impression.
At Element 502, we’ve attended and exhibited at our share of shows. Additionally, we work with our customers to make sure they get their money’s worth out of exhibiting. Here are a few tips we can share.
1) Booth Space and Layout
When you look at the size of the space you rented, it may be deceiving. We recommend using tape or something similar to actually mark off an exact size on a large section of floor. The goal is to visually understand exactly how much space you have to work with, and how it will be used. Make sure people can move around and see all key features and displays. Additionally, be wary of chairs and tables unless they are in a protected space. You don’t want “squatters” coming in to your booth and taking valuable chairs while just taking a break from walking the show.
And the padding! Don’t go cheap here. Get the thickest padding and new carpet. When you stand in the booth for 8 to 10 hours your feet and legs will hurt. A lot! The padding is great for you, and booth guests will notice and stay longer. Trust me, add it to your budget.
As for carpet, new carpet will seam correctly and look nice. Be sure to bring a vacuum with you (or buy one there). New carpet will shed so you want to make sure you keep it looking nice and clean.
3) Marketing Materials
When you go to the show, figure out what you will have in the booth to give away. Product samples, tradeshow kitsch, pamphlets, etc all fall in to this category. Be mindful here. All of this stuff has weight and costs money to ship to the show as well as to get from the event’s dock to the space. Figure out if you can print in city and pickup there. Additionally, is it super important ot have a fully working demo, or is it better to bring a shell. For instance, an empty shampoo bottle costs a lot less to ship than a full one. If you are showing a product, people don’t always need a fully functional version to get the idea.
As for your collateral, make sure it is interesting and has value. If you are just printing PowerPoint slides, really evaluate if it helps your customer understand and make a decision. Don’t create just for the sake of having something. Instead, be respectful and make it look different. If you need some help, I know some great folks at Element 502.
4) Digital Targeting
While you are at the tradeshow, make sure you are maximizing every opportunity. The big piece here is to remember to capture attention of attendees after the show. Using technology, you can market to the attendees during the show as well as when they leave. This is well beyond any email marketing strategy or show sponsored marketing. Instead, we are talking about focusing on the best customers that you saw, or didn’t see, on the mobile and desktop. No popups, or intrusion. Instead, real-time best fit advertising that tells your brand’s story.
5) Follow Up
If you showed up, then follow up. Give a few days to decompress from the show, but then send a message. If possible, make sure to include something unique about the person. This lets people see that this is a personal message rather that being thrown into a bucket for an automated follow-up system. Personal messages, not just using a token to show a first name, have a much higher response because you make people feel appreciated. Even if they say “thanks, but not now”, you have a connection to continnue moving forward.
We hope these tips have some value to you. As the season continues, let us know your successes and fun and leave and comment below with your story.