Pre-show marketing for trade shows

Pre-show marketing for trade shows

Pre-Show Marketing  For Trade Shows Is All About Getting Prospects Before They Get To The Show

Time has shown that flashy booths, crazy contests and generous promotional giveaways will attract crowds to an exhibit. Sure, crowds are often a good sign. But are these hordes of visitors all considered qualified buyers? Not necessarily. You want the right type of trade show attendees at your booth. And to achieve this objective, your company must start promoting your trade show attendance long before the show begins. Pre-show marketing for trade shows is an essential part of your overall strategy. Companies who reach out to attendees prior to the show consistently report greater satisfaction with their trade show performance. So how do you encourage attendees to visit you at the show?

An effective pre-show marketing for trade shows strategy begins with the identification of your target audience. A targeted audience can be derived from the pre-registration list and/or your list of existing customers and clients. Be certain to tailor your messages to the concerns, interests and needs of your prospects.

Next, you must have an enticing offer. Brainstorm with your staff to determine what will lure qualified buyers and important customers to your booth. Is it an exclusive “by invitation only” savings offer, an educational seminar lead by an industry expert, or the promise of a new product? The classic “two-part” promotion can also work well. Targeted audiences are sent one half of a useful gift before the show, with an invitation to pick up the second half at your booth.

Other offers include interactive contests, draws, and games. Before the show invite attendees to participate in these activities by sending them appropriately-themed products, such as a golf ball for a putting contest at your booth. The attendee brings the golf ball (imprinted with your company name and/or logo) to the show, and has the opportunity to hit the ball and win a prize. These types of interactive activities with exciting offers help lure prospects into your booth for a qualifying discussion.

After determining your enticing offers, it’s time to send invitations. Direct mail, email, personalized invitations, and phone calls all are effective. Include the name of your trade show, your booth number, and of course your tantalizing offer. Pre-show mailings that include incentives are more effective than mailings without offers. Remember that your mailings must promote the theme of your product or service, which should be consistent with the theme of your at-show promotion. Be creative, be persistent, and be diverse. It’s okay to send more than one mailing prior to the show, and diversifying your pre-show marketing strategy will yield better results. Consider sending direct mail in an unusual package to capture attention, followed by an exciting email, and finally a personal phone call. Effective press releases can garner some media attention from your industry too. Don’t force customers and prospects to search aimlessly for you – share your booth number and trade show name so they can easily find you.

It’s now time to follow-up on your invitations. Contact registered attendees and existing customers to see if appointments can be scheduled, or try to spark further interest in visiting your exhibit. Leave an enthusiastic, stimulating message if you’re unable to speak to contacts in person.

As the expression goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Reach out to attendees before the event, using a creative and well-executed pre-show marketing strategy, to increase your trade show success. Promote your attendance well in advance of the show, and you will find the right people gravitating toward your booth for meaningful discussions. Tailor your message, create an enticing offer, and follow-up on your invitations to get prospects before they even get to the show.