Perhaps more so for B2B businesses, trade shows represent golden marketing opportunities. There is no shortage of potential benefits to be had for exhibitors – increased brand awareness, good quality lead generation and sales boosts to name a few. You might be new to the world of trade shows. If that’s the case, don’t forget that these shows are going to be highly competitive – as is the case generally, the other exhibitors are vying for the attention of potential customers. The key to coming out on top is how well the visitors remember your brand after the event. As with any other form of marketing, much thought has to go into the design, promotion and planning.
Creating awareness of your brand’s trade show presence well in advance helps improve visitor numbers. Generate buzz by hinting at what people can expect to see and do at your booth – target current clients by sending out mail shots 1-2 weeks before the event date, and promote on social media to generate awareness amongst prospective customers. In both cases, it’s always worth offering a discount or freebie for people who visit your booth as a direct result of your pre-show marketing. Tactics like this can help improve brand awareness and ensure people look forward to your next event in the hope of taking part in another ‘exclusive’ promotion.
Free branded merchandise
Freebies are always a big hit among trade show attendees, but don’t fall into the same trap that countless businesses fall into – giving away cheap generic items that don’t reflect the brand or products in any way. The whole point of merchandise is for people to remember your brand for as long as possible – so give out something that will last. Also, relevancy is key – pens and notepads are popular choices but where is the association with your brand? For example, consider offering USB sticks if you’re targeting tech companies, or branded water bottles for fitness-related clients.
Ever heard the saying “never judge a book by its cover”? Of course you have. Unfortunately, many people are quick to judge, and your trade show booth is no exception. Remember that no matter how good your product or service is, or no matter how much money has been ploughed into your event presence, most people will decide whether or not to visit your exhibition based on how it looks. Use bright and colourful graphics to draw attention and POS screens to display product information. Don’t go over the top though – you don’t want to bombard your visitors’ senses. You can further enhance your presence by fixing hanging banners above your exhibition – allowing attendees to see your brand name from across the event floor.
To really ensure you are remembered more than the other exhibitors, try running a unique competition that encourages interaction with visitors to your booth. How about a raffle where visitors put their business cards or names into a hat in the hope of winning some genuinely great prizes? Asking them to return at a certain time not only has the benefit of bringing a crowd of potential customers back for a second visit, it could create a real buzz around your exhibition and encourage more people to see what’s going on.
The closer these attractions relate to your industry or product, the more likely a potential customer is going to remember you after the show. General ideas which work for most businesses include free food and drink, live presentations and Q&A sessions. You could of course push the boat out a little and try some other things – free massages, games console contests, bingo perhaps? The possibilities are endless.
Finally, a few simple but very practical tips designed to boost your presence
– If you can, try and have your exhibition in a high traffic area i.e. an entrance or exit. This is always a good technique for boosting visitor numbers
– Offering your visitors the chance to have your presentations emailed to them after the event is good for strengthening brand retention for a longer time
– Throughout the event, utilise social media to promote your business’ presence. Take advantage of any Twitter hashtags associated with that trade show to increase your brand’s exposure among event-goers
– Your best chance of converting leads to customers is your follow-up activity. Call those who gave you their business cards and get selling!