Did you know that your exhibiting space is roughly only 30% of your trade show costs?
Trade shows are expensive, but they are effective and one of the best ways to network and meet clients.
So let’s make sure we plan it right. This is part 2, of the three part series regarding how to supercharge your trade show marketing tactics!
Here are the 5 vital steps for your trade show marketing plan:
- Choose your trade shows for the year
- Put together your pre-trade show marketing plan
- Design your in-event marketing plan
- Create your post-trade show marketing plan
- Repeat steps 2-4 for all planned trade shows
In case you have missed it, part 1 of this series we covered the first and second steps of trade show marketing: 1. How to choose your trade show and 2. How to market your company pre-trade show.
So, you have finally completed all your pre-trade show marketing! It took you a lot to get to this point and now it’s time for the fun to begin!
I absolutely love trade shows! I love the energy, the people, the networking events, all the above.
I have to say, though, trade shows take a lot of energy. It’s best to make sure you have everything ready to go before you start walking the expo floor.
Step 3: Your In-event Marketing Plan
Strategize Your Trade Show Marketing
You should have everything you need: your posters, your promotional products, your strategy, etc.
Now, it’s your job to make sure all of your information, products, and posters are situated to where people that are passing by your stand know exactly who you are, and what you do. The design of your booth is key to marketing your company and business perfectly.
Make sure there is a place where you can welcome guests and clients for a cup of coffee. Make your booth inviting so people will want to stop and visit. There should always be at least one person at your stand, and having a sales executive there is a plus.
A small, but very important tip, supply really good coffee! You would be surprised what a good coffee machine can contribute to your stand’s success.
I remember meeting with a prospective client at a trade show and we were going over proposals and she complimented me on the coffee we offered. It was a great way to invite her back the next day to have another cup of coffee, and close the deal. Which she did!
Remember your goals that we discussed at the beginning of the marketing strategy? Make sure you remember those and that everyone on the team is aware. Your overall goals are what will set the mark for your exhibition and will determine later on if it was a success or not.
Promote Those Trade Show Promotional Products
Whatever you do, don’t run out of promotional products!
Think about your trade show. We know that the middle of the event is mostly the busiest and towards the end is the slowest when everyone starts packing up their stands.
Divide your promotional products by day, if possible, to make sure you don’t run out.
You want to give these items out to relevant leads for your company, so keep them somewhere behind the booth so people don’t just grab them as they walk by.
It is up to you whether you want to make them visible or not. If you have them out in the open, they are a great conversation piece! If you have them behind the booth and not visible, it really becomes a surprise when you hand your prospective client a gift! I have seen it done both ways, so it really is up to your preference.
If you really want to attract some attention to your booth, tie in a game where the winner(s) could win one of your promotional items! It will bring interaction to your booth, drawing in a crowd, and it will make the promotional products you will be giving away more valuable! They’ll be seen as a “prize” rather than a “giveaway”.
Some examples of fun games and contests are prize wheels, trivia, a counting contest, and jumbo games!
Branding 101: Face-to-Face
Market yourself! You are representing your company and are a valuable piece of your brand.
Face-to-face networking and marketing tactics can be the most influential way to reach your audience.
When you meet people face-to-face and engage in conversation, you are getting to know the person and can find out what their experiences are, the things they excel at, and their overall tone as a person.
Liking someone adds trust and will encourage them to do business with you and your company. Trust allows for open communication, autonomy, mutual respect and effective collaboration.
Take advantage of having your audience face-to-face at the exhibition.
Host a Networking/Event Mixer
When you plan and sponsor a networking event, you’re suddenly transformed into a business leader in the community.
There is nothing better than showing everyone that you know what you are doing!
Hosting an event will expose you to so many business leads.
Here are a few steps from Entrepreneur on how to host your mixer like a champ!
- Make it easy: have people register in advance or RSVP online
- Choose your location wisely: busy areas at the exhibition are mostly next to the lunch area.
- Make the check-in smooth: Have people sign in with their information. If they don’t want to fill it out, have them leave a business card instead. Don’t forget to provide name tags for everyone!
- Meet everyone: Make sure to listen to them and take interest in their business!
- Be a connector: Since you now know everyone, you can introduce prospective clients to experts in their industry! Make sure you remember these connections so you can follow up later and see how they were able to connect.
- Recruit anchors: Bring on volunteers who will guide the more shy people to connect and network at the mixer. They should also be a good listener and be interested in their story, as they can also find the right person to connect them to!
- Follow up, and do it again: If you are exhibiting at the next year’s event, organise the same mixer! Get feedback from your attendees on how the the mixer could be better and improve it for the next one.
When done right, a networking mixer will attached a positive experience to your name and your company’s name. If you have the opportunity to host one, take advantage of it!
Advertising: Be all over the place, not just at your booth!
You should always look at different advertising opportunities for exhibitions.
Advertising is a great way to spread awareness and a chance for people to start recognizing your name throughout the event.
It varies with every exhibition, but I have seen a few different ways that you can advertise at exhibitions.
One, if there are tv screens throughout the event, they normally run a couple different slides of advertisements between upcoming conference sessions and networking events at the expo.
Visitors always check the tv screens for these schedules.
And then, low and behold, your advertisement with a “See Us at Booth 15A” comes up with a picture of your team, your company name, and your promotional products to entice people to go to your booth! It’s a great way to be visible all around the exhibition floor.
Two, if there is wifi at the exhibition, see if there is an option to sponsor the wifi!
I have seen this done before, and it’s brilliant! When people go to the internet, it will take them to a landing page with your company name and logo on it.
They are directed there to login, so everyone needs to go to that landing page if they want to use the wifi.
So, with today’s use of technology and internet, it is the best way to be seen by all!
Third, sponsor the event itself!
This will require a bit more budget than the other advertising options, but this would really spread your brand awareness.
When you sponsor the event, there is a whole marketing package available for your brand!
Some creative sponsorship packages include:
- Sponsoring a charging station for phones and laptops
- Sponsoring networking events and mixers
- Posting sponsorship videos on websites, social media, and email and more!
If the host of the exhibition gives out goodie bags when the visitors walk in, as a sponsor you are able to slip in a pamphlet or information on your company!
You are also featured on their website as a sponsor of the event.
This will definitely increase your brand awareness, so if your budget allows it, I would give it a go!
Utilize Your Social Media To the Fullest
Social media is key for successful marketing during the event!
The best thing about using social media for event marketing is that social media is fast, in real-time, and live!
It is best to encourage your team at the event to post regularly throughout the event and use the event hashtag.
You can post upcoming conference seminars you’ll be attending, the networking mixer you just went to, and/or a picture of you and one of your clients in front of an event banner. As long as it’s something about the event, it’s all relevant.
As mentioned earlier, pictures with people are the best!
I worked with a company previously and we had a live feed of pictures all throughout the event.
We had over 4,000 clicks to our photo album one week after! Most of our clicks came during the event itself, but two weeks after that number doubled! If you keep posting pictures it will give people a reason to follow you.
Keep updated on social media at the event!
Social media booth
Social media booths are fun, interactive, and a great way to remind people to use social media during the event!
During one social media booth I was at, we would have the Editors walk the expo floor and take pictures and after they would meet me at the social media booth, hook up the camera straight to my laptop, and upload the photos straight away.
We had a tv screen on the wall that showed exactly what I was doing when I was uploading the photo, from downloading the picture, to resizing and adding our logo, and then to adding it on social and writing a descriptive caption.
And, of course, adding the hashtag!
Since the Editors were there anyway, they were able to give awesome captions and knew the people that were in the photos so we could tag their companies right away.
It was a huge success and a great attention-getter!
Upload your pictures of products and promotional items
Along with pictures of people being very important, pictures of exhibition products and promotional products you give away all add a large value to your photo album!
A good idea is to first check with the event hall coordinator to see if there are restrictions of taking pictures during the event. Most of the time you are required to have a Press Pass, so make sure you check that at the beginning of the show.
If allowed, walk the exhibition floor and take photos of people’s stands and what they are selling there. By taking pictures of other companies, you are giving them a reason to like and share the photos that you take, expanding your album traffic.
Do they have promotional products they are giving away? Take a picture of it and show how people are marketing their company at these events. These all add value to your event photo album and will show others what the event is all about, enticing them to attend the next event.
Take photos of your promotional products! You want to show off what you are using at your stand to attract more people.
When you walk the expo floor, keep a look-out for people holding your promotional bags or items. Snap a photo and add it to your album!
The Exhibition Recap
Make sure you have stopped by all exhibition booths that you wanted to visit before the last day of the event.
The last day is always hectic and closes earlier than noted. If people are travelling far they are normally the first ones to pack up their stand.
Make sure all photos are uploaded to your social media platforms and albums. When people are travelling back, normally they are checking emails and social media.
Don’t forget to send out a couple messages via email and social media thanking people for stopping by your stand, attending your networking mixer, and/or just meeting for a cup of coffee.
You’re feet hurt and you’re tired, but you have marketed your trade show like a boss!
You’ve made it! You survived!
You are more than half-way through your marketing adventure of your trade show.
Remember to enjoy the travel back to the office!
Because when you get back to the office, the final step of your marketing plan will meet you there: Step 4: Your post-trade show marketing plan!