Effective Tradeshow Promotion

Seven Steps for Successful Tradeshow Promotion

Tradeshows are all about generating revenue, which requires finely tuned marketing and promotion. You are strategically planning to present your goods and services to a specially targeted audience in order to meet clearly defined sales goals and objectives.

To maximize outcomes, it is essential to implement marketing activities above and beyond merely showing up at the next event.

Here are seven tradeshow promotion steps you need to take:

1. Decide on a pre-show promotional strategy. 
How are you going to let your target audience what shows you will be attending and what you will be presenting? Tradeshow promotion methods include personal invitations, advertising in trade publications, publicity, direct mail, social media, telemarketing, digital marketing, and sponsorships.

2. Plan on-site promotional activities.
This will include any efforts you make to promote your presence at or around the show. Options include airport advertising, billboards, hotel TV advertising, transit advertising, show daily advertising, hotel room promotions, show directory advertising, and sponsorship opportunities.

3. Reach out to the media. 
Editorial coverage is worth its weight in gold. To entice media outlets to cover your company’s tradeshow promotion efforts, you have to provide a newsworthy angle. Give the reporters something to write or talk about such as industry trends, new research data or product introductions. Make this "hook" the focus of your press kits.

Press kits should be mailed before the show, be available at the show, and after the show to ensure maximum coverage. Two main ways to reach out to the press are through press releases and press conferences.

Remember to only use press conferences for tradeshow promotion when you have new information to share with your target market. You will make the media very unhappy if you share old stuff.

4. Organize a visitor competition.
People are wildly competitive. Throw in a chance to win a prize, and you’ll have crowds flocking to your booth. Planning visitor competitions requires some careful planning.

Everything that happens at your exhibit must reflect your marketing goals and objectives. Competitions should be consistent with the corporate image you want to portray. For example, a game show style trivia contest may be far more appropriate than a karaoke stage.

Prizes should tie in to your products and services in an effort to attract more qualified leads. Items to consider include type of competition, prizes to be offered, compliance with local rules and regulations, compliance with show regulations, staffing for the competition, duration of the competition, and the role competition plays in promotional efforts.

5. Decide on giveaway items.
Giveaway items or ‘freebies’ should be more than a trendy trinket with your corporate logo on it. Ideally, these items are something that enhance your corporate image, will be used regularly by your target audience, and keep your company logo in regular view.

Avoid promotional products that will be passed along to children, such as cuddly toys, or are so insignificant that they are likely to be tossed. Four things to remember about giveaway items:

  1. Giveaway items should reinforce your marketing message
  2. Make your promotional item business oriented
  3. Don’t be trendy. It is better to be unique, helpful and informative.
  4. Toys and gimmicky gizmos are always, always, always passed along to children. Unless your primary buyers are still in preschool, avoid them.

6. Plan hospitality
As more and more companies begin to do business on a global scale, marketing strategies change. Buyers from Europe and Asia expect a certain amount of hospitality at tradeshows.

In fact, these features are an integral part of the international business scene. Many relationships that begin in social environments flower into profitable business. Consider if any of the following will work for you: (a) hospitality suite, (b) meal style events, and (c) sponsorships.

7. Mind the details.
More often than not, it is the little things that can stymie the most well-intentioned promotional efforts. Attendees will easily get frustrated and walk away if what they perceive as a minor need cannot be met – and they won’t be walking away with a good impression. For that reason, make sure the following matters are attended to:

  • The booth number must be clearly printed on all promotional material. People cannot visit you if they cannot find you.
  • Extra supplies of literature, catalogs, and sales material should be available.
  • Clear, concise, and correct information must be listed in the show guide.
  • Adequate supplies of visitor tickets, free passes to hospitality suites or events, and similar items should be on hand.

Click on the articles below for additional tradeshow promotion tips to maximize your event results.

Article by trade show consultant Susan A. Friedmann, CSP. For a free copy of "10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make," send an email to article4@thetradeshowcoach.com. 

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