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How to Plan Your Trade Show Marketing

Cain & Company
April 4, 2019

Exhibiting at trade shows is an exciting part of your marketing strategy. Trade shows let you connect with your customers in person, leading to opportunities for building relationships and showcasing your products.

But trade show marketing takes more than your sales team occupying a booth and hoping for the best. Attracting visitors to your exhibit starts well before the show and is just as important as following up with your contacts post-show.

Trade show marketing takes careful planning and digital strategies to speak to visitors and hold their interest. Here are some steps for effective trade show marketing to get the most out of exhibiting.

Planning Ahead

Trade show planning begins months prior to the show. The first step is determining your lead goals. Decide who you'll reach out to and how you’ll interact with visitors at the show. Keep in mind what actions you expect from them, like scheduling meetings or email registration.

Before the Show

Begin pre-show planning by encouraging registered attendees to visit your booth. Often, you can purchase a contact list from organizers, but always verify it’s from a valid source. 

Your content should tell your audience about your exhibit and attendance. You can also offer sponsorship opportunities or partner with the organizers. Reach out to previous show-goers, pre-registered guests, and your own current customers.

Next, design a landing page on your website customized for the show. Share your booth number, any special demonstrations, and one-on-one meeting offers. You can also give some insight for improving attendee experience in exchange for their contact information.

Trade show focused content like blogs or video help draw a larger crowd. These add personality and are easy to share on your site and social channels. Focus on industry topics and answer attendee questions. Be sure to promote your brand's exhibit at the show.

Spread the word and share content through email and social media marketing. Segment your contacts and send relevant information focused on their specific industry. 

On social media, build excitement by letting your followers know what to expect at the show. Paid ad campaigns and geo-targeting let you target specific companies or attendees that will benefit from your marketing and exhibiting.

Finally, include assets in your booth design that you've found helpful. If videos entertained prospects online, they’ll likely enjoy them at your booth during the trade show.

During the Show

Give attendees a reason to stop by your booth. Swag and branded items are fun but make sure you focus on your target audience by offering exclusive promotions. Product showcases, live show podcasts, and other demonstrations will bring in the right prospects.

Having a tablet set up in your booth or in the hands of your sales reps is a must for lead capture. Attendees can scan their badge for instant sign up, emails, and offers. They can also be directed to a landing page full of valuable information.

The staff at your booth should be knowledgeable and personable when interacting with prospects. Train the team to grasp all technology or service offers so they fully understand the expectations of the exhibit.

Throughout the show, share live activity on social media, including videos, photos, contests, or sign-up promotions. Encourage followers to share or tag for more social engagement. Your audience will enjoy following along and being included in the action!

After the Show

Great planning paves the way for positive post-show reviews. Work with your sales team to figure out how you’ll connect with attendees after the show. Organize your contacts, generate workflows, and reach out directly to high-potential prospects.

A nurture strategy is also ideal at this point. You can share what you learned at the show and offer insights to your visitors. Track and analyze your follow-up performance; the better your segmentation, the easier it will be to measure success.

Having an organized approach means a greater return on investment, both in dollars and in your time, and a better overall better trade show experience. Review yours to see what worked and how you can improve your trade show marketing for future exhibits.

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