Trade shows can be a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. It provides an opportunity to meet with large numbers of highly qualified leads in a relatively short amount of time. But, a successful appearance is not as easy as throwing up a booth, putting your offerings out on display and giving out free products. Here are some tips to make a showing with impact that will help you achieve your overall marketing and business goals.
To maximize the benefits of a trade show appearance, you need to aggressively market before hand to let current and prospective customers know you will be attending. You want to encourage them to attend the show so you can get some face time. If you are unveiling new products, consider offering sneak peeks on your website. Offering a special promotion or discount to trade show attendees exclusively can be a great incentive to attend. If you have an email list, make sure you craft some enticing copy letting them know you will be at the show and why they should be there too. You might also consider purchasing email lists that allow you to reach out to your target audience. No matter what pre-show marketing efforts you employ, each contact should offer something of value to the recipient.
How you design your booth space is crucial; your trade show display needs to be designed in such a way that you pull customers in; you want people to come to your booth rather than the potentially hundreds of others. First and foremost, you want to consider neatness and visibility. A messy space looks like an unattractive space. Your booth should have a focal point and a clear message about the benefits your products or services provide.
Consider setting up a display board so that some products are right at the customer’s eye level. Make sure all prices are clearly marked. Make important information easily visible, so that people do not have to wait to speak to you about the most basic information—examples include pricing, order minimums and shipping costs. Draw people in with contests, quizzes, demonstrations and other activities that foster direct participation by visitors. Never leave your booth unattended. You should have at least one other person with you at the show so that it is being manned at all times. You do not want to miss out on new business because someone stops by and there was no one to talk to.
Promotional items are crucial at trade shows; people love free stuff, but slapping your company name and contact information on any old product is not the way to go. You should choose your items with care. First and foremost, you need to clarify objectives—what is your primary goal in attending this show? Is it getting new customers? Is it letting people know about new products and services? Are you hoping to build brand awareness? Clear objectives are a good starting point for choosing items. Make sure the item is in line with your company’s image, values and offerings.
Pick something useful for the long-term—promotional water bottles may be a good idea in the moment, but they are not going home with the recipient. Think carefully about your target audience, your most ideal customer and pick an item accordingly. Taking the broad stroke approach and giving away items that have mass appeal can dilute the impact. Instead of just giving away something to anyone that stops by, you might consider investing in fewer, more quality items that can be used as a thank you for taking part in product demonstrations or providing qualifying information.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers various marketing topics; if you are in need of displays for your next trade show, visit Monster Displays.