By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter
For most companies trade shows are still a key component to the marketing mix. But these shows can be a significant investment, between the booth space, the booth itself, graphics, collateral, travel costs and the personnel to man the actual booth. So it’s critical to maximize the return and success of your trade show. In this Part 1 of a 3-part series on trade shows we’ll look at the 5 pre-show activities you should be doing to make your next trade show a success.
1. Remind people you are attending the trade show
It seems like a no brainer, but utilize your normal marketing activities (advertising, e-newsletters, web site, social media) to let your customers know your company will be at the show. E-blasts and postcard mailings are other great pre-show activities. Remember all those leads you captured from last year’s show? Well, now it’s time to put these leads to use! Most trade shows also have pre-registered attendee lists you can rent. No matter what marketing tactics you implement, just remember to include your booth number!
2. Publicity with trade publications
Most trade media have various pre-show editorial leading up to these shows. These opportunities are free, so make sure to leverage your editorial contacts. Trade media editors will also be attending the trade show, so make sure you invite them to your booth to see your latest and greatest offerings. Ideally try and setup specific times for them to come by the booth so you can have the appropriate personnel from your company to answer questions.
3. Key customers attending the trade show
At no other time are you going to be able to see multiple customers in one location at the same time, so make sure you take advantage of it. Make sure to setup booth appointments and meetings with these key customers. Also coordinate meals and entertainment activities before and after shows hours. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings.
4. Booth personnel coverage
Make sure you schedule adequate coverage during the entire show. There’s nothing worse than having too many or too few people from your company in the booth. Most trade shows have the heaviest traffic during the first few days of the show as well as the earlier hours. And then the lightest traffic during the last few hours of each day and definitely the last day of the show.
5. Expand your presence at the trade show outside of your booth
Speaking and presentation opportunities are great ways to gain exposure with the show attendees. Please note these engagements are typically finalized well in advance (once a show is over they start planning for next year). There are also a ton of other advertising/promotional items (e.g. banners, trade show in-app advertising, floor decals, program guides, mobile advertising around the show, bags, lanyards) at the show to consider. And don’t forget there also maybe promotional opportunities at the host hotels tied into the show.