‘If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.’ Perhaps a cliché? But, when you’re investing a large chunk of your marketing budget in a trade show – the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for disappointment, by leaving your marketing communications to the last minute.
DON’T OVERLOOK THE ‘WHY?’
Before you can even begin to create your pre trade show marketing strategy you need to set your objectives. Start by asking yourself: Why am I participating in this show? Then write down your answers.
A few examples to get you started;
- To build on relationships with both existing customers & prospects
- To expose your brand and/or raise its profile within your target market(s)
- Because it is a launch pad for a new product or service
- To discover new business opportunities through distributors and partnerships,
- Expand your technology & industry knowledge with all the information available at the show – including gaining a face to face understanding of the competition
- Ultimately, to win new business.
UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
It is important to get a good understanding of the show’s audience by looking at previous attendance statistics. You can then begin to profile your customer and prospect data accordingly so your pre-show communications can be as targeted and cost effective as possible. Don’t waste your time and money communicating with an irrelevant, disinterested audience.
Once you have organised your data, ideally you would start your pre-show communications at least 3 – 6 months before the show. This will give you enough time to build momentum and raise awareness of your attendance to attract as many delegates to your stand as possible.
On the flip side, and more importantly, it will also give you a chance to build a clearer picture of what your customers and prospects would like to learn about during the show so you can be in poll position to give them what they want. Social media is the perfect platform for gaining that insight, along with your blog.
PLAN YOUR ATTACK
Be sure to take advantage of the ‘free’ marketing opportunities available to you via the show organisers, remember they are the direct link between you and the trade show audience and they will be communicating on a regular basis. You want to be part of that community as early as possible. Examples would be news blog posts on the trade show website, social media mentions or retweets, competitions, press release or news article mentions, detailed inclusion in the show guide, email marketing mentions, testimonials.
Then you need to consider your own marketing to your prospects and customers that may be attending; think about your key messages and any teasers that will help you to lure people to your stand.
- Blog about it
- Tweet about it
- Email about it
- Produce Web Banners
- Reference it on your digital or print advertising
- Send out direct mail flyers
- Publish information about your attendance on any other business directory profiles you gain traffic from
Create a day by day, week by week content plan for the trade show that gets more concentrated as the show draws nearer…and stick to it! But, remember to allow some degree of flexibility for any spur of the moment content ideas.
ON A FINAL NOTE
You also need to think about your show literature as this will need to be designed and printed within plenty of time to avoid a mad panic in the week before the show starts. Make sure you are stocked up with business cards and produce interesting brochures or flyers that will support your stand sales pitch and present your brand and your sales messages (remembering everything you have gathered from your prospects in terms of what they want to learn from the show).
If you have done all the hard work with pre show communication to lure people to your stand, you then need to ensure you will stand out from the competition and resonate with the prospects during the event and also long after the trade show is over. You never know how long it might take for a potential lead to convert so you need to make a lasting impression and any literature that they take back to the office with them may just increase your chances.