Tradeshow Marketing: The Secrets to Success on the Road

Everyone goes to tradeshows knowing exactly what to expect: rows upon rows of unexciting booths giving away pens and hand sanitizer.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Tradeshows can be an excellent way to engage customers, promote your brand, and gain new leads and contacts.  All it takes is a few minor adjustments to your approach.

A successful tradeshow begins with a strong pre-show initiative.  It is essential that members of your target audience are aware that you will be at the show and why stopping at your booth is worth their time.  A simple way to begin this process would be to get a list of attendees from the host organization.  From this list, carefully choose a group of attendees that you would like to target and plan a strategy for reaching them.  It is always best to do this in a multi-channel way.  For example, you could send your target attendees a direct mail piece, an e-mail blast, and a social media invite all informing them that you will be present at the tradeshow and where your booth will be located.  If you wanted to take this initiative a step further, these communications could contain a PURL (personalized URL) to get additional information about the attendee and their business needs.

Now the easy part is over- your target attendees know you will be present at the show.  Now the real challenge begins.  How can you ensure they visit your booth?  Put yourself in their shoes: there are hundreds of booths to visit.  What would make it worth their time to single yours out?  It needs to be worth their time.  There are endless ways to achieve this, and the more creative the better.  For example, the customer could bring the direct mail piece to your booth for a chance to win a prize or service related giveaway.  If your pre-show initiatives included a PURL, it could serve as a location to pre-register for a prize.  Another option could be utilizing mobile media and texting attendants during the show to stop by your booth.

One way to ensure that your booth stands out against the crowd is having professional signage and promotional materials.  This could include anything from mounted signage, retractable banners, or floor decals.  Anything out of the ordinary will be more likely to create a buzz among the sea of white folding tables.  The nonverbal communication of the employees working at the booth will also have a major impact on the traffic the booth receives.  No one wants to visit a booth where unengaged people are sitting on a folding chair behind a table.  It is crucial that professionally dressed, enthusiastic employees are standing in front of the booth engaging attendees in conversation and welcoming questions.

Finally, the trade show is over and your work is done.  Wrong!  This is the most crucial aspect of a tradeshow that is often overlooked.  It is essential to take all of the leads you worked so hard to get and categorize them into hot, warm and cold.  Hot leads are people who expressed a need in your product or service or have requested information.  It is essential that hot leads are followed up with in 3-5 business days because you are probably competing for their business with competitors from the tradeshow.  Warm leads are people who were interested in your product or service, but a decision probably won’t happen any time soon.  These people should be followed up with within two weeks.  Cold leads are all of the others.  Follow up with these people with a generic marketing piece in 4-6 weeks.

Hopefully this got you thinking of ways to refresh the way you approach your next tradeshow.  AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District is here to help you out with all your marketing, print and signage needs!

by Kristen Hasychak,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

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