Trade show budgets easily run to 5 digits. Effective show promotion can quadruple your booth results.
It is quite natural for trade show specialists to focus on the design and preparation of their booth. It takes a great deal of time, effort and the participation of many people (and agencies) to create an effective layout, prepare signage, develop displays and demonstrations, select and train booth staff and handle all of the logistical details of a trade show.
However, there are all sorts of reasons that lead to the conclusion that promotion is actually the most important pre-show preparation task.
- Over 75% of attendees plan their trade show activities in advance. Their time is limited and they use information provided by show management to make the most of their time. All show activities, including conference sessions, scheduled meetings, other exhibitors and hospitality events, are all competing for their attention. If your booth is not a planned stop on their schedule, you have a very low chance of meeting them.
- Promotions done by show management are focused on maximizing the number of attendees at the show. It’s your job to provide a reason for attendees to visit your booth.
- Hoping that a catchy give away will create buzz and lure people to your booth is just that – a hope.
- A recent study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research raised their “attraction efficiency” by 46% by using pre-show marketing.
It is not sufficient to be listed in the show directory and to mention your participation on your website calendar. At large shows, your entry in the show directory is almost guaranteed to get lost among the hundreds of other exhibitors. Even when you buy some of the show “promotional extras” such as banner ads on the show website, your visibility to your specific prospects is limited.
Targeted communications to registered attendees has proven to be the most effective strategy for getting new visitors to your booth. To get on an attendees “must see” list, you must provide them with a reason to visit your booth. Sending generic “we’ll be there” types of communications are insufficient and not very effective. News about products, new applications, user case studies and other content of value is what is needed. Forget the “enter our contest and win an iPad” approach – they probably already have one!
However, while new prospects are always important, marketing to your customers, inquirers and prospects frequently deliver the most value. Future posts will provide ideas on how best to go about the crucial part of pre-show promotion.